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Secure Communities: Colorado signs on to fingerprint check for illegal immigrants

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Colorado is the latest state to join Secure Communities, a federal program that checks fingerprints of people booked into local jails against a national database of illegal immigrants.

"My office has worked closely with stakeholders and the federal government over the past few months to address Colorado-specific concerns and modify the standard Secure Communities agreement," outgoing Governor Bill Ritter said in a press release today.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement oversees the national database of illegal immigrant fingerprints.

"This means increased reporting, additional data reviews and greater transparency and accountability to ensure Secure Communities is implemented in Colorado in a balanced, fair and effective manner," Ritter added.

But not all of the stakeholders are happy with the result.

Immigrant-rights advocates are planning to voice their concerns at a press conference on the steps of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. today. Alan Kaplan of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition says the modifications made by Ritter will make Colorado's Secure Communities program one of the most overbroad and flawed in the country.

"Instead of making it stronger and more protective of people, it seems like the negotiating team has made it into something that can be applied more broadly than it was originally meant to be," Kaplan says.

For instance, a CIRC analysis points out that the agreement waters down standard language directing Secure Communities to target those "convicted of serious criminal offenses." Instead, it says to focus on those "convicted of a criminal offense."

"It's going to give ICE the ability to use this thing as a dragnet," Kaplan says.

"I think it's a slap in the face to the immigrant community," he adds. "It's a slap in the face to the dozens of groups who've been working their asses off on this, submitting letters to the governor. All of that seems to have been listened to and moved past."

More from our Immigration archive: "Road to Nowhere: The men who are caught transporting illegal immigrants rarely pay the price."

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