Should local police be involved in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws? The answer to this question may seem obvious. After all, a law is a law. But the answer is neither that simple, nor that straightforward. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the federal government has exclusive powers to enact and enforce immigration law. But a patchwork of laws and policies call on local law enforcement authorities to participate in immigration enforcement. Key among these is the Se Communities deportation program, or S-Comm. Under S-Comm, when law enforcement authorities take someone’s fingerprints, the prints are sent automatically from the FBI to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement database for an immigration background check. ICE then decides when to send a detainer request to local law enforcement agencies. While the immigrant is incarcerated, ICE decides whether to take further action.
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