D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed an executive order Wednesday directing police officers not to question people they arrest about their immigration status.
Advocates for immigrants cheered the order, but District officials said it merely confirms a longstanding policy.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander said the order does not mean the District is opting out of a mandatory federal program called Secure Communities, which directs local agencies to share fingerprints collected from people in local jails with the Department of Homeland Security. The program is expected to be in place nationwide by 2013.
Gray said he wanted to clarify that police in the District are not in the business of enforcing federal immigration laws.
The order also applies to the corrections and fire departments but does not apply if immigration status is relevant to a criminal investigation, The Washington Post reported.