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Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin Signs Memorandum of Agreement with Department of Homeland Security for Secure Communities Program

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to engage in the Secure Communities program. The signed MOA was sent to DHS for signature. Signatures from both parties are required before the program can be implemented.

“As Attorney General, I have a duty and obligation to safeguard our communities and to provide our law enforcement agencies with the tools and technology they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “Secure Communities is a proactive method of making neighborhoods safe by dealing with individuals who have committed crimes against us. The program has a proven track record of enhancing public safety by focusing on violent offenders and those that pose a threat to our communities and our national security.”

"The Secure Communities strategy provides ICE with an effective tool to identify criminal aliens in local custody," said Secure Communities Assistant Director David Venturella. "Enhancing public safety is at the core of ICE's mission. Our goal is to use biometric information sharing to remove criminal aliens, preventing them from being released back into the community, with little or no additional burden on our law enforcement partners."

The Secure Communities program improves and modernizes the identification and removal of criminal aliens from the United States, according to ICE. When an individual is currently arrested for committing a crime, fingerprints of the arrested individual are run through the state and the FBI database, known as the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). With Secure Communities, fingerprints of those arrested and booked will also checked against a combined DHS/FBI database known as IDENT/IAFIS Interoperability. If a fingerprint match is recorded, ICE will determine if immigration enforcement action is required, considering the immigration status of the alien, the severity of the crime and the alien's criminal history.

Through Secure Communities, because fingerprints are checked at the time of booking, after a lawful arrest, ICE can identify criminal aliens early in the process and initiate immigration enforcement action.

“Just as the IAFIS system revolutionized information sharing among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Secure Communities will continue to improve communication and cooperation in protecting our citizens,” continued Attorney General Kilmartin.

The Department of Homeland Security intends to employ Secure Communities in all jurisdictions across the nation by 2013.

Secure Communities focuses on three objectives:

• Identify criminal aliens in federal, state and local custody charged with or convicted of a serious criminal offense who are subject to removal and those aliens who have prior convictions for serious criminal offenses and are subject to removal who are currently at large;

• Prioritize enforcement actions to ensure apprehension and removal of aliens convicted of serious criminal offenses; and,

• Transform criminal alien enforcement processes and systems to achieve lasting results.

With the Secure Communities program, there is no change to state and local law enforcement’s current daily operations. Their role is to continue enforcing their state or local law the way they always have. Local law enforcement does not take a federal immigration enforcement role with Secure Communities. In fact, Secure Communities does not authorize, or permit, state or local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law – ICE retains authority. There is no cost to the state or local police departments to employ Secure Communities.

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