Feds Push Fingerprint 'Dragnet' for Illegal Immigrants

Obama administration moves to expand program
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 27, 2010 7:27 AM CDT
Feds Push Fingerprint 'Dragnet' for Illegal Immigrants
Senior Deputy Jerry Anttila, right, fingerprints an unidentified suspect during the booking process at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo., on Monday, July 26, 2010.   (Chris Schneider)

The federal government is quietly expanding a program that could have a bigger impact on immigrants' rights than the controversial Arizona law that goes into effect this week. Under the program, the fingerprints of everyone who is booked into jail for any crime—whether or not they are convicted—are run against FBI criminal history records and Department of Homeland Security immigration records to determine if they're in the country legally. It's drawing opposition from local authorities and advocates who argue that the initiative amounts to an excessive dragnet.

Right now, 467 jurisdictions in 26 states have joined, and ICE says it wants the program in every jail in the country by 2013. But there's been blowback. San Francisco's sheriff wants nothing to do with the program, and Washington, DC's city council blocked it in the nation's capital. Colorado is the latest to debate the program. Immigrant groups there sent a letter to the governor saying the program will make crime victims reluctant to cooperate with police "due to fear of being drawn into the immigration regime." (Read more illegal immigration stories.)

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