Insecure Sanctuary - Page 3

A controversial fingerprinting program might have quietly ended local protection of immigrants

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The collaboration between federal ICE and local police is troubling immigrant rights advocates.

"ICE always did these checks, but it was only available to local law enforcement agencies if they queried the system themselves, which required them to take a couple of extra steps," Kice continued. "And it was name based. And that could be problematic, given duplicate names in system. That's what fingerprints eliminate. Our concern is that municipalities are dependent to a large extent on information provided by the individual at the moment of arrest. We think the use of biometrics will ensure that folks who provide false information to local law enforcement officials don't escape detection."

Kice acknowledged that not everyone in the database is a violator. "The fact of having a record does not mean that you are a deportable alien," she said. "And we understand that someone may get arrested and may not get convicted on their current charges. But what about a prior history? We know that folks have eluded detection, escaped, or been released from custody. So the individual may be someone who has other prior convictions. It's the totality of their record that we are talking about here."

At present, the San Francisco County Sheriff's Department only reports noncitizens who are booked on felony charges. Hennessey expressed concerns about the unintended consequences of ICE technology interfacing with that of the Department of Justice's fingerprint database.

He also warned that the 2,000 or so ICE referrals his office makes annually could explode. "We'll be fingerprinting 35,000-40,000 persons annually," Hennessey claimed. "And ICE has a record of secrecy. They won't tell me what happened to folks they pick up. They won't say if they are still in custody, been released or deported. The basis of sanctuary city is to protect immigrants who are not doing anything wrong or serious. When ICE grabs someone who failed to pay a traffic ticket and that person is supporting a family, I don't think those crimes should rise to the level of deportation."