The California Department of Justice (CalDOJ) and the Office of the Attorney General have received inquiries about state and local law enforcement responsibilities under Secure Communities, a federal program administered by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DHS implemented the Secure Communities program as a way to identify, detain, and remove from the United States unlawfully present immigrants who have been convicted of a crime and those who pose a threat to public safety. The program does not require California law enforcement agencies to determine an individual's immigration status or to enforce federal immigration laws.

Secure Communities works when fingerprints taken by state and local law enforcement agencies are sent to CalDOJ to positively identify the arrestee and to check his or her criminal history. In addition to checking its own records, CalDOJ forwards the fingerprints to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services division to search for federal and out-of-state arrest, warrant, and conviction history—an action that is essential both for officer safety and to identify and detain fugitives who may have fled other jurisdictions. Under the Secure Communities program, the FBI forwards the fingerprints to DHS to be checked against immigration and other databases. DHS then sends the immigration response, if any, to the FBI, which sends it, along with any criminal history information, to CalDOJ, which generally delivers all the information to the requesting law enforcement agency.

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