WA counties deciding fate of immigration program

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SEATTLE (AP) -- More than a dozen of the state's 39 counties have joined a federal program that uses fingerprint analysis to identify illegal immigrants in county jails.

The so-called Secure Communities initiative is contentious among immigrant advocacy groups, which argue the program can discourage immigrants from reporting crimes and can lead to the deportation of people who haven't been convicted of anything.

But Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim says some involved sheriffs, especially from smaller counties, view the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program as simply another way to make certain people with criminal records are properly screened.

The state's largest immigrant advocacy group -- OneAmerica -- has launched a statewide campaign to lobby against counties activating the program.