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Latino Daily News

Tuesday January 18, 2011

Sacramento County Uses Biometrics to Remove 461 Undocumented in First Year

Since its activation in Sacramento County a year ago, Secure Communities’ biometric information-sharing initiative has resulted in the identification and removal of more than 460 convicted criminal immigrants encountered by local law enforcement in Sacramento County.

Secure communities is the center of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) comprehensive strategy to enhance efforts to identify and remove unauthorized immigrants convicted of crimes from the country. It uses biometric identification to alert ICE when potentially removable aliens are arrested by local law enforcement.

Of the 461 convicted criminal aliens removed from Sacramento County in the last year, 192 are considered Level 1 offenders, which includes those convicted of serious or violent crimes, such as murder, sexual assault and robbery. Another 126 are Level 2 offenders, which includes individuals with convictions for offenses such as arson, burglary and property crimes. As part of the Secure Communities strategy, ICE is prioritizing its enforcement efforts to ensure that individuals who pose the greatest threat to public safety are removed first.

Regardless of the offenses for which individuals are initially booked, the Secure Communities screening may reveal more serious criminal histories.

Through enhanced information sharing between the DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), biometrics submitted through the state to the FBI will be automatically checked against both the FBI criminal history records in IAFIS and the biometrics-based immigration records in DHS’s Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT).

If fingerprints match those of someone in DHS’s biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE. ICE evaluates each case to determine the individual’s immigration status and takes appropriate immigration enforcement action. This includes aliens who are lawfully and unlawfully in the United States, but who have been arrested and booked into local law enforcement custody for a crime. Once identified through fingerprint matching, ICE prioritizes its response to focus on criminal aliens convicted of the most serious crimes first - such as those with convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping. In accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, ICE continues to take action on aliens subject to removal as resources permit.

“Last year, ICE prevented hundreds of convicted criminal aliens in Sacramento County from being released back into the community,” said Secure Communities Assistant Director David Venturella. “Through the Secure Communities strategy, we’re increasing community safety by enforcing federal immigration law in a smart, effective way that targets individuals who pose the greatest potential threat to public safety for removal first.”

Sacramento County is one of 41 jurisdictions in California that are currently using from Secure Communities. The information sharing capability has resulted in ICE removing nearly 22,000 convicted criminal aliens throughout the state. Nationwide, ICE is using the capability in 969 jurisdictions across 37 states, and it has assisted ICE in removing more than 59,000 undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime.

By 2013, ICE plans to respond nationwide to all fingerprint matches generated through IDENT/IAFIS interoperability.