LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will no longer transfer illegal immigrants to federal custody after arrests for minor offenses.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports Sheriff Lee Baca’s dramatic reversal on the federal Secure Communities program comes after an announcement from California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Baca had previously been a strong supporter of the controversial U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program, which sent federal officials fingerprints of arrested suspects and gave the government 48 hours to request an immigration hold.

But after he being sued by immigrant rights advocates in June 2011, Baca has changed department police following a directive from Harris informing local policing agencies that compliance with the program is voluntary.

L.A. County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the announcement provided Baca with some much-needed clarification.

“He was under the interpretation of the Secure Communities act that he was required to honor all ICE holds,” Whitmore said.

Baca hopes to have the new policy in place by the end of this month, Whitmore added.


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