Counties Using ICE Databases During Arrests

Counties using ICE databases during arrests

By Lynn Brezosky
The San Antonio Express-News (TX), June 11, 2009

Harlingen, TX — Sheriff's departments in six South Texas counties have begun accessing Immigration and Customs Enforcement fingerprint databases to determine if arrested individuals are immigration offenders who can be removed from the country, ICE announced Wednesday.

The Secure Communities initiative will allow officials in Hidalgo, Starr, Brooks, Jim Wells, and Kenedy counties to streamline a time-consuming and spotty system of Border Patrol interviews in jails, said Jacob Castro, assistant field office director for ICE in Harlingen.

Each inmate's 10-print scan has so far been checked only against state and federal criminal databases, Castro said.

Now it's just going to go into the ICE database for any immigration violations and it returns back to the arresting agency, he said. Once they're completed with their criminal process, then they come into our custody.

The initiative was launched in October 2008 and is currently in place in San Diego, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz; Fairfax, Va.; Dallas; San Antonio; and Huntsville. All U.S. counties are expected to use the system by 2012.

According to ICE, there are between 300,000 and 450,000 criminals with immigration violations serving time in U.S. prisons and jails.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevio said 25 percent of his county's inmate population are unauthorized immigrants.

Re-offending criminal illegal aliens have been a real security and economic issue for our community, he said. The Secure Communities initiative will be extremely helpful in insuring they are properly flagged for deportation.