(AP) A federal judge has ordered the release of a document expected to show why the U.S. government ended up mandating a program for identifying deportable immigrants after they've been detained.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the government late Monday to turn over a key memorandum by Nov. 1 to civil rights groups and immigrant advocates who had included it in a Freedom of Information Act request.
The memo was expected to explain why a program known as Secure Communities was optional for states and municipalities through at least the beginning of 2010, but became mandatory by the end of that year. The program enables the fingerprints of detainees arrested locally to be shared with federal authorities. Critics say the program has made immigrants reluctant to report crime because they fear deportation.
In a statement, the plaintiffs assert that the judge's order will shine light on a program plagued with secrecy and lies. Advocates for an immigration overhaul say the program has resulted in the deportation of people accused of traffic violations or other misdemeanors. Several states have objected to participating, arguing that immigration is a federal, not state, responsibility.
A government spokeswoman, Jerika Richardson, declined comment.