Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is now reversing course and threatening to withdraw from the Secure Communities program.
That's a big change for Boston, where police Commissioner Ed Davis had been a strong supporter of the program, wich shares the fingerprints of everyone arrested by local police with federal immigration authorities.
Just last month Davis said that as far as he knew, only serious criminals were being removed.
“Up to this point i have not been able to find someone who's completely innocent that's been deported as a result of this program,” he said in June.
Boston is the only community in Massachusetts to have Secure Communities. It started as a pilot program there in 2006.
But now Menino says he'll pull out of the program if US immigration authorities don't limit deportations to serious criminals.
“This was supposed to be on issues like homicides, major crimes, and they were taking this too far. A guy steals a car, they do the fingerprints, send it to Washington, have the person deported. That's not the Boston I want. I want Boston to be a city that welcomes immigrants,” Menino said.
A spokesperson for US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the bureau will respond directly to Boston about the mayor's concerns, but notes the agency has taken steps to address them.
In any case, Secure Communities is set to be rolled out nationwide by 2013, with or without local support.