The first day Secure Communities was activated in Starr County, Texas, local law enforcement arrested a man on assault charges. Because his fingerprints were submitted through Secure Communities technology, ICE was quickly able to determine that he was previously convicted of murder, was removed from the United States, and had re-entered the country illegally. In his multiple criminal exploits, DHS had encountered the man on five separate occasions – valuable information for local and federal officials alike.
Secure Communities was designed to facilitate access to timely and accurate information about state and local arrests to better identify criminal aliens and to prioritize those who are the most dangerous for removal from the United States. As Starr County and 94 other jurisdictions across the country have learned first hand, it does its job.
Today, during a press conference at ICE Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Secretary Napolitano noted that “Secure Communities provides our local partners with an effective tool to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety.” The program has significantly enhanced ICE’s ability to identify criminal aliens. In one year, the initiative enabled ICE to identify more than 111,000 criminal aliens when they were arrested and booked by state or local law enforcement.
Secure Communities, both the concept and the initiative, is made possible through partnerships among DHS components, the Department of Justice, and state and local law enforcement. Over the last year, these partnerships have enabled Secure Communities to enhance biometric information-sharing technology supporting the criminal booking processes across 11 states. This technology enables biometrics—fingerprints—collected during the booking process to be checked against FBI criminal history records and DHS immigration records. When ICE officials receive notification of an immigration record match, they can promptly determine if enforcement action is required and take appropriate action.
The Secretary's announcement today marked progress on one of the Department’s top priorities—removing criminal aliens. Through this initiative, ICE has identified more than 11,200 criminal aliens charged with or convicted of the most dangerous and violent offenses, including murder, rape, kidnapping, and major drug offenses. All told, Secure Communities has identified more than 111,000 criminal aliens. This announcement is also testament to the power of collaboration among agencies. DHS’s US-VISIT program, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, and all our state and local law enforcement partners are critical – we look forward to celebrating future anniversaries with them on this successful program.
John Morton is the Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement