Secure Communities Program to Remove the Criminal Element

POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 9:08am

UPDATED: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 12:33pm

A new program is underway in county jails across the Valley this week and it could keep you and your family safer. It's called the Secure Communities Program and it uses biometrics to remove dangerous illegal immigrants from the Valley.

It's a typically busy day inside the Harris County Detention Center and county workers inside are booking inmates and this includes pictures, files and fingerprints. Once in the IAFIS system, right now, the FBI and Department of Justice share information on inmates. Starting this week in Hidalgo and Starr counties, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will also share that information with one goal in mind to remove the criminal element.

Criminals who once walked free after serving their time will now be flagged for ICE to come in and pick them up straight from the jail. Just how many criminals might this keep off Valley streets? According to ICE the Hidalgo County Detention Center holds an average of 1,232 inmates a day and of those 25% are titled criminal illegal aliens which is about 308 illegal immigrant inmates in county jails a day.

A tap of the screen and the illegal immigrants who are the biggest threat, people with prior convictions of drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping, will leave the jail and then leave the country. Starr county started the Secure Communities Program on Tuesday, Hidlago started on Wednesday, and plans are in place to include Cameron and Willacy counties by the end of the this month.

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