California Attorney General: holding immigrants is voluntary

California Attorney General: holding immigrants is voluntary
In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, California Attorney General Kamala Harris gives her first news conference in Los Angeles.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California Attorney General Kamala Harris is telling local police agencies that it is up to them whether to comply with the federal government's request to hold illegal immigrants.

Harris, the state's top law enforcement officer, issued a law enforcement bulletin on Tuesday saying that complying with the federal government's Secure Communities program is voluntary.

The federal program checks the immigration status of people who are arrested for any crimes.

Harris' bulletin says federal requests for immigration holds "are requests, not commands."

Some local police, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, have said they want to stop honoring federal immigration detention requests in cases involving low-level crimes.

Harris says police can decide whether to comply based on their "public-safety priorities or the best use of limited local law enforcement resources."