The national electronic database of fingerprints, which is missing countless sets of prints taken before 2005, could receive a $10 million infusion of funds to digitize the old prints now sitting in card files across the U.S., reports the Washington Post. The gap in the IDENT database was exposed in January when the Post reported that a man wanted in the rape of an 8-year-old girl in Virginia had been in jail several weeks before the incident. Although the man, Salvador Portillo-Saravia, had been deported in 2003, when jail officials checked his fingerprints in November through the Secure Communities computer, there was no match reported, and he was released.
Portillo-Saravia, identified by Fairfax police as a member of the street gang MS-13, was arrested in Houston in February. Immigration officials said many people who were deported before 2005 were fingerprinted the old-fashioned way, with inked fingertips rolled onto a card or sheet, and an unknown number of those prints are not in the electronic database. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department budget, has proposed to provide $10 million to digitize old fingerprint cards.”