In the past fingerprints taken of individuals charged with a crime and booked into custody were checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, said Gail Montenegro, an ICE spokesperson in Chicago.
But through this new “enhanced information sharing” between the state Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland security fingerprints submitted by the state to the FBI will be automatically checked against both the FBI criminal history records and immigration biometrics, she said.
The program here and elsewhere has proved controversial. Voces de la Frontera executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said the program “casts too wide a net, abusing due process rights so that someone who is innocent of a charge will still end up in deportation proceedings.”
She said there’s concern the program will encourage racial profiling among law enforcement and undermine the public’s trust by creating new fears of immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes.
Law enforcement officials dispute that.
“Right now immigration is a very passionate and emotional issue and that’s replaced reason and logic when it comes to the enforcement of immigration policy,” said Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
“We don’t enforce immigration at the local level. It’s a federal issue. But as sheriff we do have role in sharing information with any legitimate law enforcement agency for lawful purposes,” he said.
Brown County Sheriff John Gossage said: “Enhanced information sharing and increased communications with ICE will greatly aid in our effort to identify, apprehend and reduce the number of criminal illegal aliens in Brown County.”
There are now 969 jurisdictions in 37 states participating in the program. By 2013, ICE anticipates that the program will be nationwide, so that all fingerprint matches can be shared, according to plans for the secure communities program.