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Criminal Alien Program

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CAP Fingerprinting
ICE places a high priority on combating illegal immigration, including targeting illegal aliens with criminal records who pose a threat to public safety.

The Criminal Alien Program (CAP) provides ICE-wide direction and support in the biometric and biographic identification, arrest, and removal of priority aliens who are incarcerated within federal, state, and local prisons and jails, as well as at-large criminal aliens that have circumvented identification. It is incumbent upon ICE to ensure that all efforts are made to investigate, arrest, and remove individuals from the United States that ICE deems priorities by processing the alien expeditiously and securing a final order of removal for an incarcerated alien before the alien is released to ICE custody. The identification and processing of incarcerated criminal aliens, before release from jails and prisons, decreases or eliminates the time spent in ICE custody and reduces the overall cost to the Federal Government.

Additionally, integral to the effective execution of this program is the aggressive prosecution of criminal offenders identified by ERO officers during the course of their duties. ERO, in conjunction with the Offices of the United States Attorneys, actively pursues criminal prosecutions upon the discovery of offenses of the nation's criminal code and immigration laws. This further enhances public safety and provides a significant deterrent to recidivism.

Declined Immigration Detainers

Sanctuary policies force ICE officers out of local jails and into corresponding communities. When a local jurisdiction refuses to collaborate with ICE or obstructs the agency's lawful enforcement activities, it places at risk both public and officer safety, requires a much greater expenditure of limited resources and forces ICE to arrest criminal aliens at-large in the communities, instead of a secure, jail environment.

Cooperation between ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies is critical to the effort to identify and arrest removable aliens and defend the nation’s security. Every day, ICE places detainers on individuals who the agency has probable cause to believe are aliens who are removable from the United States and are currently in federal, state and local law enforcement agency custody. While many jurisdictions across the country cooperate with ICE’s detainers and work closely with the agency to ensure the safety of local communities, in some cases, state or local laws, ordinances or policies restrict or prohibit cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE. Additionally, some jurisdictions willfully decline to honor immigration detainers and refuse to timely notify ICE of an alien’s release, and may do so even when an alien has a criminal record.

ERO Criminal Prosecutions

ECP screens recidivist criminal aliens encountered through ERO’s enforcement efforts and local law enforcement to seek criminal prosecution to mitigate the risk of future recidivism and enhance the integrity of the U.S. immigration system. Integral to success in this effort is the collaboration with the Offices of the United States Attorneys to prosecute the charged criminal offenders.

IDENT/IAFIS Interoperability

Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT)/Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) interoperability is a biometric screening process that is consistent and efficient in the identification of criminal and other priority aliens. ICE leveraged an already-existing Federal information-sharing partnership between US-VISIT and the FBI that helps to identify criminal aliens at arrest or book-in without imposing new or additional workload on state and local law enforcement agencies. It has been fully deployed in all state and local jurisdictions, as well as Federal agencies, to include the DOD. Full deployment of IDENT/IAFIS interoperability has led to an increase in the number of criminal and other priority aliens identified and arrested.

When state and local law enforcement arrest and book someone into a jail facility for a violation of a state criminal offense, they will generally fingerprint the person. The fingerprints are electronically submitted to the state’s fingerprint database, and are then forwarded to the FBI. Provided that the person had been previously encountered and fingerprinted by an immigration official, a “match” will register at which time ICE is notified and an ICE officer determines the person’s immigration and criminal status to establish the appropriate immigration enforcement action, if any. If the person has not previously been fingerprinted by an immigration official, there will be “no match.” In all cases, an ICE or 287(g) designated immigration officer will need to interview the individual to determine the appropriate enforcement action.

Joint Criminal Alien Removal Taskforces

Joint Criminal Alien Removal Taskforces (JCART) identifies, investigates and arrests at-large criminal aliens with, but not limited to, convictions for drug trafficking offenses, crimes of violence and sex offenses. JCART will also identify and target aliens involved in human trafficking, smuggling and transnational organized crime for increased information collection. In addition to working with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, JCART partners with other law enforcement entities, such as probation and parole offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Prisons and local law enforcement agencies to conduct special operations.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/13/2020