The three year old program consists of an information-sharing partnership between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The program helps to identify criminal aliens without imposing any new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement.
Federal officials initially said there were ways to drop out of Secure Communities. Three states sought to opt out of or suspend participation in the fingerprint-sharing program, but last August the Department of Homeland Security told governors that the program did not need their approval to operate and that it was eliminating agreements signed to authorize their states' participation.
In a memo from October 2010, a legal advisor for ICE said that the choices available to local law enforcement agents who have already decided to opt out or limit their participation in the current information-sharing process will be streamlined. Therefore, the process will become mandatory in 2013.
ICE spokeswoman, Virginia Kice said, "ICE did not change its position on the mandatory nature of Secure Communities. Once a state or local government voluntarily submits fingerprint information to federal law enforcement officials, it cannot dictate how this information is shared to protect public safety."