Linswritings

New fingerprint identification system has glitches

Posted on: March 21, 2011

Recently, the state of Colorado established a “Secure Communities” program to help identify the worst offenders among illegal immigrants in jails. Implementation of Secure Communities began around the country in 2008. It has taken some states two years to get all counties on board with the program. Colorado counties have until 2013 to implement the program before it becomes mandatory. However, due to some early technical glitches in the pilot stage this program is not up and running.

This program requires local law enforcement agencies to electronically provide fingerprints of everyone in jail to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The fingerprints are then simultaneously checked against FBI criminal records and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration status records. The point of this program is to be able to deport only the worst offenders.

However, this is government work and as a result the program is slow to come on-line. The glitches in the system include a sporadic lack of notification to the local agency when an illegal immigrant with a serious criminal record is identified.to this program. As a result agencies for Secure Communities in Colorado still have to rely on their old criminal-identification systems or on alternative identification methods while the new program’s problems are worked out.

CBI spokesman Lance Clem said his department is working on the technical problems with the notification system to the pilot counties. Connecting new counties will be as easy as activating their fingerprint- scanning programs.

Carl Rusnok, communications director for ICE, said his agency won’t move that quickly. ICE will be adding counties in batches so the program can be evaluated to make sure it is working well. What this tells me, ICE is in no hurry to implement the program and may be the stopping block to the whole system.

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