A federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement database is part of a program called “Secure Communities,” which aims to identify and deport the most dangerous illegal immigrants in U.S. jails and prisons, says the Houston Chronicle. Since Houston’s Harris County started using the database in October, participation in the program has grown to 70 sites in the U.S. In the program’s first six months, more than 266,000 fingerprint submissions were run through the system nationally, generating more than 32,000 “matches” for suspects with both an immigration history and record of a prior conviction or charge.
Nationally, only 15 percent of the 6,130 suspects that authorities filed paperwork to detain after finding a match in the system were classified as “aggravated felons” – the agency’s primary target group. Critics say ICE’s data indicates that, so far, the agency is casting a broad net for suspected illegal immigrants in the jails, and is sweeping up some offenders who do not pose a danger to the public along with more hardened criminals