Forsyth County, Georgia, has started implementing a Secure Communities program with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). This program shares biometrics information to identify aliens, both lawfully and unlawfully present in the United States, who are booked into local law enforcement’s custody for a crime.
Previously, biometrics—fingerprints—taken of individuals charged with a crime and booked into custody were checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), and now these fingerprints will also be checked against the FBI criminal history records and the biometrics-based immigration records in DHS’s Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT).
Under the new system, if fingerprints match those of someone in DHS’ biometric system, the new automated process will notify ICE (which will then evaluate the case to determine the individual's immigration status and what enforcement steps should be taken). ICE will then respond with a priority placed on aliens convicted of the most serious crimes first—such as those with convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping. However, as we all know, many of the people being held with immigration holds are held for minor traffic offenses. Since ICE began using this information sharing capability in October 2008, immigration officers have removed from the United States more than 50,600 aliens convicted of a crime. But, ICE does not share with us what these crimes are (could be traffic offenses).