WASHINGTON - A U.S. congresswoman wants an investigation of Homeland Security officials she charges lied about screening for illegal immigrants in local jails.
"It is inescapable that the [department] was not honest with the local governments or with me" about whether local authorities must cooperate, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't have a government department essentially lying to local government and to members of Congress. This is not OK."
The Secure Communities program has been criticized for catching many immigrants who were arrested but never charged or committed minor offenses. San Francisco and San Jose have tried to opt out of it.
In September, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote to Lofgren, saying they could do so.
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents later revealed officials knew the program was mandatory, and Napolitano said so in October.
"It's unacceptable, and if she knew about it, something has to be done about her, and, if she didn't, she has to do something about those who did," Lofgren said.
A Homeland Security official said: "Secure Communities is not voluntary and never has been. Unfortunately, this was not communicated as clearly as it should have been."