HARTFORD - As of today, illegal immigrants facing misdemeanor charges in Connecticut could end up being deported.

A new federal program just went into effect statewide, allowing local police to share their fingerprint data with immigration officials.

Critics say the program meant to make the area safer is fundamentally unfair to illegal immigrants, who could be exposed to the possibility of deportation even when the charge they face is a misdemeanor.

However, Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling says the program will only focus on people charged with more serious crimes.

Patricia Soto, of Bridgeport, is not convinced. The 30-year-old, who has a full-time job and an MBA, says she has been in the U.S. for 12 years, but her visa has now expired.

Soto says she shares the fear many illegal immigrants have of facing a misdemeanor charge and being deported.

Some southwestern Connecticut communities have had the policy in place for up to two years as part of a federal pilot program.