Mount Vernon mayor wants tighter immigration rules
Mount Vernon Mayor Bud Norris says he wants the Skagit County Sheriff's Office to adopt a federal program that would deport more illegal immigrants who have committed felonies.
Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON — Mayor Bud Norris said Monday he wants the Skagit County Sheriff's Office to adopt a federal program that would deport more illegal immigrants who have committed felonies.
But some say the program, called Secure Communities, has serious flaws.
Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will speak on the subject to the Mount Vernon City Council Wednesday night.
Most states already have adopted the Secure Communities program, which requires local law-enforcement to send the fingerprints of people booked into jail to ICE. The federal immigration-enforcement agency then compares the prints to its database of illegal immigrants.
Secure Communities becomes mandatory for all states in 2013.
But since Washington state declined to participate in the program last year, county sheriffs now have the authority to opt in.
Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt said that while the program has promise, he doesn't want to commit while it is in a state of flux.
"ICE says once you're in you can't opt out, and that's a big deal," he said. "I think it's wise to take a more conservative approach. Let's wait and see what this program is going to become."
Because the sheriff won't sign off on the program, Skagit County will not join six other counties in the state that already have agreed to become part of Secure Communities.
Critics say Secure Communities sometimes nets minor criminals or those who haven't committed a crime but are in the country illegally.
"What those critics will ignore is that while the overall number of individuals removed will exceed prior years, the composition of that number will have fundamentally changed," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a speech last week in Arizona. "It will consist of more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration-law violators, and immigration fugitives than ever before."
Although Norris wants ICE to educate the City Council on the program at its next meeting, at least one council member said he doesn't understand why the council should be involved.
The ICE presentation to the City Council was Norris' idea, Councilman Bob Fiedler said.
"I don't know why we're talking about it at a council meeting, because it doesn't have anything to do with us at this point."
Last month, Norris came under fire for wanting to make English the city's official language. More than 50 community members showed up at a meeting to oppose that idea.
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
The Seattle Times photographs
Purchase The Seattle Times images
Career Center Blog
Sign up for our newsletter
Get creative suggestions for making your house a home weekly in your inbox!