About 150 jurisdictions in 19 states have joined Secure Communities, a sweeping federal program that aims to identify and deport illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes, reports the Washington Post. The Obama administration hopes the program will operate in all 3,100 local jails nationwide by 2013.
It is part of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement effort to streamline how it identifies and removes criminal illegal immigrants, allowing local law enforcement officers to check fingerprints against the FBI criminal database and the Department of Homeland Security’s biometric database. Officials hope that the system will prevent serious criminals from being released back onto the streets. The new process automatically alerts federal officials when illegal immigrants are arrested and their fingerprints are compared to those in the databases, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether deportation is a priority. The administration says it wants to focus on illegal immigrants who commit serious or violent crimes.