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San Francisco Sanctuary City Policy Will Be Dropped If City Joins 'Secure Cities' Fingerprint Program

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SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco is set to join a federal program next month that will automatically check the immigration status of anyone arrested or booked for a misdeameanor or felony.

Sheriff Michael Hennessey says the system, which enters arrestee fingerprints into a Homeland Security database, will undo San Francisco's long-standing sanctuary city policy which requires law enforcement to report only those booked for felonies.

He also says he's concerned it will discourage illegal immigrants from cooperating with police over fears of deportation.

The program, called Secure Communities, aims to identify and deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes. The program requires local law enforcement to take suspects' fingerprints. The prints are then cross-checked against three databases and federal authorities are autmoatically notified if there is a math. So far, the program has been deployed in more than 160 local jurisdictions and is expected to be nationwide by 2013.

Hennessey says federal immigration officials recently told him the city is due to go online in June.

San Francisco outlines it's sanctuary ordinance on it's web site:

"City and County of Refuge" Ordinance (also known as the Sanctuary Ordinance) which prohibits City employees from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with immigration investigations or arrests unless such help is required by federal or state law or a warrant.