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Secure Communities
04/22/2010

Additional Virginia jurisdictions to benefit from ICE strategy to enhance the identification, removal of criminal aliens

Now the criminal and immigration records of all local arrestees to be checked

Richmond, Va. - Law enforcement agencies in four jurisdictions including Henrico County, Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach began employing a new information-sharing capability made available by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of the Secure Communities strategy. Secure Communities is ICE's comprehensive strategy to improve and modernize the identification and removal of criminal aliens from the United States.

Previously, local arrestees' fingerprints were taken and checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) maintained by the FBI. Now, as part of the Secure Communities strategy, fingerprint information submitted by state and local law enforcement agencies will now be simultaneously checked against both the FBI criminal history records in IAFIS and the biometrics-based immigration records in the Department of Homeland Security's Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT).

If fingerprints match those of someone in DHS's biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE, enabling the agency to take appropriate action to ensure criminal aliens are not released back into the community. Top priority is given to individuals who pose the greatest threat to public safety, such as those with prior convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.

"The Secure Communities strategy provides local law enforcement with an effective tool to identify criminal aliens," said Secure Communities Executive Director David Venturella. "Enhancing public safety is at the core of ICE's mission. Our goal is to use biometric information sharing to prevent criminal aliens from being released back into the community, with little or no additional burden on our law enforcement partners."

With the expansion of the information-sharing capability seven northern Virginia jurisdictions already benefit from this tool, including, Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William and Rappahannock and the city of Alexandria. Across the country, 168 jurisdictions in 20 states have this capability. By 2013, ICE expects to make this capability available nationwide.

 "Secure Communities is a great tool in helping us to enforce the law and send a message that there is a cost to coming into the country illegally," said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. "In most cases, we are targeting those with a criminal background. We are taking them off the streets and out of our communities, and we are potentially deterring them from returning to the United States and committing further crimes."

"The Secure Communities program is an important addition to our community," said Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade. "It enables us to get a more accurate picture of who we have in custody so we can best manage our time and resources."

"The Secure Communities Program gives us more information about the individuals within our facility allowing our facility to run more smoothly while also keeping our community safe," said Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle.

Since ICE began using this information sharing capability in October 2008, it has matched more than 21,700 fingerprint records to aliens charged with or convicted of Level 1 crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping-more than 4,900 of whom have already been removed from the United States. Most of the aliens subject to removal who have been identified but not yet removed are in legal proceedings or completing their sentences. Additionally, ICE has removed more than 28,400 aliens charged with or convicted of Level 2 and 3 crimes, including burglary and serious property crimes, which account for approximately 90 percent of the crimes committed by aliens.

The IDENT system is maintained by DHS's US-VISIT program, and IAFIS is maintained by the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). 

 The MOA ICE entered with the Commonwealth of Virginia will bring the Secure Communities strategy to all Virginia law enforcement agencies by 2013.

Secure Communities is part of DHS's comprehensive plan to distribute technology that links local law enforcement agencies to both FBI and DHS biometric systems. DHS's US VISIT Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) holds biometrics-based immigration records, while the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) contains biometrics-based criminal records.

"US VISIT is proud to support ICE, helping provide decision makers with comprehensive, reliable information when and where they need it," said US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny. "By enhancing the interoperability of DHS's and the FBI's biometric systems, we are able to give federal, state and local decision makers information that helps them better protect our communities and our nation."

"Under this plan, ICE will be utilizing FBI system enhancements that allow improved information sharing at the state and local law enforcement level based on positive identification of incarcerated criminal aliens," said Daniel D. Roberts, assistant director of the FBI's CJIS Division. "Additionally, ICE and the FBI are working together to take advantage of the strong relationships already forged between the FBI and state and local law enforcement necessary to assist ICE in achieving its goals."

For more information, visit www.ice.gov/secure_communities.