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October 11, 2010 / J. Shaw

OK Program Deports Hundreds of Immigrants

Fingerprints taken from thousands of people arrested in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties have identified hundreds of illegal immigrants and resulted in their deportation.

Oklahoma and Tulsa counties last November implemented Secure Communities, a program that sends the fingerprints of individuals booked into jail for comparison with federal investigative and immigration databases. Since then, nearly 30,000 fingerprints have been submitted in both counties, according to data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Most recent numbers show more than 1,200 hits for suspected immigration violations and 429 deportations.

Some in law enforcement praise the simplicity and ease of taking fingerprints to help identify the immigration violators. But others say the program opens the door to rights violations, is lacking transparency and oversight and isn’t the tool it’s been touted to be.

A recent report on the program by the Immigration Policy Center recommended all jurisdictions participating in the program receive adequate civil rights and illegal profiling training.

“This can’t take the place of people trained in immigration enforcement,” said Sgt. Shannon Clark, head of the federal immigration enforcement program in Tulsa County. Deputies there are trained to identify illegal immigrants and are able to detain them for suspected violations.

Clark said only people who come into contact with federal immigration or customs agents will have fingerprints in the immigration database. Many arrested in Oklahoma have entered and lived in the country without ever being detected by law enforcement or immigration officials.

“Determining alienage can’t be done simply with a computer program,” he said.

However, Maj. Jack Herron, Oklahoma County jail administrator, said the program has helped ease crowding in his packed jail.

The most recent data show the database identified 156 people with possible immigration violations from July 19 through Oct. 6. Interviews then conducted by federal agents resulted in 98 detained and taken away by immigration officers. Herron said the jail books about 4,000 inmates per month.

Prioritizing offenders
Immigration officials say they prioritize their focus based on the severity of the crime allegedly committed.

 

more: .newsok.com/  BY VALLERY BROWN
 Article -Federal fingerprinting program leads to deportations in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties
 
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