The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now activated a program in all the counties of Washington State, a program, that will enable the fingerprints of everyone booked into local jails to be checked against the national immigration database. According to ICE, this program has been proposed in order to identify, detain and eventually deport those who do not have immigrant visas and to remove them from the country. This will be done with special focus on those who have committed serious crimes.
Secure Communities as this federal program is known, is now available in all 39 counties of Washington State as well as in 45 other states and jurisdictions. Started in 2008, the program is not very popular with immigrant advocates who say that it even targets those who have committed minor offenses. Even States from California to New York have fought against its implementation.
This program uses fingerprints instead of names. After the fingerprints are collected they are fed through a state database to the FBI, where the ICE would access them and check them against their own database. Using the FBI database, this kind of analysis is quicker and eliminates the need to have an ICE official check booking lists, a process that may not occur often.
Officials have said that this program has already helped them remove about 129,000 convicted immigrant criminals from the U.S. since 2008. Even those who want strict immigration ins laws support this program. However, some of them doubt its credibility and have said that with this program, the communities may become less secure.
ICE has been persuading the other States to join this program, but many ridicule the program or delay in responding to the request. The ICE signed an agreement with local jurisdictions. In Washington, about six of the 39 counties have opted for the program last July. ICE has said that it would implement this program with or without state approval soon by 2013. Now Washington has become the 34 th state state with activation throughout the state.
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