A federal “Secure Communities” database designed to identify non-citizens has helped authorities remove 31,000 convicted criminals from the U.S. in less than two years and is being aggressively expanded throughout the nation by the Obama administration, the Arizona Republic reports.
Local police agencies say the database uses fingerprint matches to help them determine who they have in custody. The database, which contains information gathered by the Homeland Security Department, can tell police whether a person under arrest has been deported from the U.S. before. It also can help them determine whether a person is wanted for serious crimes in another country. Critics say the system could become an incentive for local police agencies to arrest immigrants on minor offenses simply to run them through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement database to see if they are in the country illegally and try to have them deported.