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Immigration News

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s Kentucky Visit

Last week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Lexington, Ky., to meet with state and local law enforcement partners and business leaders to discuss the Obama administration’s strong commitment to smart, effective enforcement of America’s immigration laws. She also visited Louisville, Ky., to meet with first responders and community leaders to discuss the importance of informing and empowering citizens and communities both before and during an emergency.

In Lexington, Secretary Napolitano highlighted the first ever implementation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ( ICE ) Secure Communities program in the commonwealth of Kentucky in Fayette County, Ky. Secure Communities allows ICE to use biometric information to identify criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails.

“The Obama administration has fundamentally changed the federal government’s approach to immigration enforcement—both at and within our nation’s borders,” said Secretary Napolitano. “With smart, effective enforcement that prioritizes public safety and national security and holds employers accountable, we are removing more convicted criminal aliens than ever before.”

Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama administration’s continued focus on prioritizing the identification and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety—noting the record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics achieved in fiscal year ( FY ) 2010. DHS removed more than 392,000 aliens nationwide in FY 2010, the most ever, and half of those removed—more than 195,000—were convicted criminals. These statistics represent increases of more than 23,000 removals overall and 81,000 criminal removals compared to FY 2008—a more than 70 percent increase in removal of criminal aliens from the previous administration.

DHS has expanded the Secure Communities initiative—which uses biometric information and services to identify and remove criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails—from 14 jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 660 today, including all jurisdictions along the Southwest border. DHS is on track to expand this program to all law enforcement jurisdictions nationwide by 2013. This year alone, Secure Communities has resulted in the arrest of more than 59,000 convicted criminal aliens, including more than 21,000 convicted of major violent offenses like murder, rape, and the sexual abuse of children.

In Louisville, Secretary Napolitano toured the Louisville Operations Center and reiterated the Department’s commitment to partnering with local law enforcement and first responders, as well as citizens, private sector leaders and community groups to get resources out of Washington, D.C., and into the hands of the men and women serving on the front lines.

“Homeland security begins with hometown security,” said Secretary Napolitano. “When we equip local law enforcement, citizens and communities with the tools they need to understand and counter the threats we face, we make our hometowns—and our nation—safer.”

She also highlighted Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s efforts to synchronize Louisville’s successful anonymous tipline tool with DHS’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign—part of the Department’s national efforts to help raise public awareness of terrorism, crime and other threats and emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper law enforcement authorities.