Formerly, during the booking process, arrestees' fingerprints were checked for criminal history information only against the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), a biometric database maintained by the FBI.
With the implementation of Secure Communities, this fingerprint information is now automatically and simultaneously checked against both the FBI criminal history records and the biometrics-based immigration records in the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), which is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
If any fingerprints match those of someone in the DHS biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE. ICE evaluates each case to determine the individual's immigration status and takes appropriate enforcement action. This includes aliens who are in lawful status and those who are present without lawful authority. Once identified through fingerprint matching, ICE will respond with a priority placed on aliens convicted of the most serious offenses first - such as those with convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping.
"The Secure Communities strategy provides an effective tool to help ICE identify aliens charged with crimes in law enforcement custody with little or no cost to our law enforcement partners," said ICE Director John Morton. "Applying this biometric information sharing tool in Michigan improves public safety by enabling ICE to prevent the release of criminal aliens back into our communities when they complete their sentences."
"The ability for local law enforcement to run fingerprints against the ICE database is a critical tool in protecting our streets and neighborhoods," Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said. "Aliens illegally in our country committing crimes in our communities is unacceptable. We are happy to work with ICE to identify those illegal aliens in a streamlined fashion and expedite their removal."
"This initiative ensures that our local law enforcement partners know as much as possible about the people in their custody," said Rebecca Adducci, ICE field office director for Detroit Enforcement and Removals Operations, the office overseeing the Secure Communities initiative in Michigan. "By using sophisticated biometrics, this tool allows us to quickly and accurately identify those criminal aliens who pose the greatest threat to our communities."
With the expansion of the biometric information sharing capability in Oakland County, ICE is now using it in 437 jurisdictions in 24 states. Wayne County was the first county in Michigan to acquire this capability last year. ICE expects to make it available in jurisdictions nationwide by 2013.
Since ICE began using this enhanced information sharing capability in October 2008, immigration officers have removed from the United States more than 8,500 criminal aliens convicted of Level 1 crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping. Additionally, ICE has removed more than 22,200 criminal aliens convicted of Level 2 and 3 crimes, including burglary and serious property crimes, which account for the majority of 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).
"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 ICE's Secure Communities web page.