NH not opposed to joining federal program designed to point out illegal aliens

By DAN TUOHY
New Hampshire Union Leader
Published Jun 12, 2011 at 3:00 am (Updated Jun 11, 2011)

A controversial federal program designed to crack down on illegal aliens has not yet been activated in New Hampshire, but state authorities continue to work with federal counterparts to launch it.

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has no immediate objection to Secure Communities, a program that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security, started in 2008. Its goal is to run the names and fingerprints of everyone who is arrested through federal immigration and criminal databases.

Advocates for immigrants have questioned the reach of the program and have alleged that it promotes racial profiling.

Citing some of those concerns, Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick refused to endorse Secure Communities. The Boston Globe reported last week that the federal government would force Massachusetts to join the program and that Patrick lacked authority to block or impede statewide rollout of the program by 2013.

The federal government has said the project would be implemented at little or no cost to state law enforcement partners.

The program uses fingerprint-based biometric identification technology and shares the information among law enforcement agencies.

The program seeks to use existing data-sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Fingerprints of everyone arrested and booked are not only checked against the FBI criminal database, but also against Homeland Security immigration records. If there is a match, Immigration and Customs Enforcement determines whether action is required, according to the program’s Web page. The action taken is dependent on the status of the illegal alien, the severity of the alleged crime, and the alien’s criminal history.

Lynch is working with program administrators for a launch in New Hampshire by 2013, which is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement target deadline for a nationwide deployment of Secure Communities.

“The Department of Safety continues to have discussions with federal officials regarding this data-sharing program with the expectation that this program will be implemented,