Fingerprinting Program Not Applied to All States

Thursday, 17 Feb 2011 03:10 PM

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Internal Homeland Security documents reveal that some jurisdictions were allowed to opt out of a controversial fingerprinting program designed to snare undocumented migrants.

The opt out was allowed even as DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was saying publicly that the Secure Communities program was not “an opt-in, opt-out program,” The Washington Post reported.

napolitano
Janet Napolitano
The program, which sends fingerprints obtained by local police through a federal database to identify and deport illegal immigrants, has been responsible for nearly 60,000 deportations. It is currently operating in over 1,000 jurisdictions in 39 states, the Post said.

Officials in a number of jurisdictions oppose the program, fearing it would discourage immigrants from reporting crimes. Arlington Country, Va., and Santa Clara, Calif., sought to opt out last year and were told no, the Post said.

However, documents released in a lawsuit brought by opponents of the program show that New York and Chicago were both allowed opt-out even after Napolitano’s comments. Shortly after Napolitano’s comments, regional coordinators for the program sent an e-mail point out her comments were at odds with practice.

"Witness the fact that Chicago and Cook County, Ill.,  have in fact opted out; and the fact that in New York State, we are required to ask each and every law enforcement organization in the state whether or not they wish to participate before we will be permitted to activate them. How does any of that square with the 'no opt-out for locals?' Doesn't,” the Post reported.



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