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New system to check immigration status of arrestees activated in Virginia

Rosalind Helderman

A new system that lets local law enforcement check fingerprints of people who are arrested against immigration records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security is now in use in every county in Virginia, according to a joint release by the Attorney General's office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Previously, authorities could check fingerprints against the FBI's criminal history database. But the new "Secure Communities" program lets them check DHS records and automatically alerts ICE to those with immigration violations. According to a release, ICE will prioritize enforcement for those who are convicted of major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping.

Counting Virginia's participation, the program is now available in 336 jurisdictions in 22 states and will be available nationally by 2013.

"This information sharing enables criminal aliens to be identified at the time they are booked in a jail anywhere in Virginia, and those convicted of serious crimes can be prioritized for deportation after serving their sentences," Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) said in a statement.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 21, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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