Blog Archive

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pilot fingerprint program in three Colorado jails to aid deportations

By Kieran Nicholson
The Denver Post
February 15, 2011

Fingerprints of inmates booked into three jails in Colorado can now be forwarded electronically to federal databases, and returned information could lead to deportations of illegal immigrants.

The Secure Communities Program kicked off today in Arapahoe and El Paso counties, as well as Denver, according to the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

"These are counties that have stepped forward," said Lance Clem, a public safety spokesman.

In January Gov. Bill Ritter approved Colorado's participation in the program. Colorado joins at least 35 other states in the measure.

"This is a very important program that will have a positive impact upon public safety, will enhance our ability to identify criminal aliens, and will focus upon the timely deportation of those who continue to victimize our community," Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said.

As part of the program, jailers will receive immigration status information within two hours of submitting fingerprints to federal databases, which will lead to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placing a "deportation detainer" on illegal immigrants.

The pilot program, which started at 7 a.m. and should last about six to eight weeks, aims to "ensure a smooth transition" for other sheriff's offices across the state, Robinson said.

Every inmate booked into the jail is fingerprinted and all fingerprints will be submitted to the federal data base via the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Robinson said.

"It will be seamless," he said.

Robinson, who sat on the Governor's Immigration Task Force, said his office has some concerns over a "backlog" of inmates, or an "uptick" in the jail's population, but it "shouldn't cause overcrowding."

"We are very glad it was implemented," Robinson said.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police both support the program, Robinson said, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is aiming for nationwide implementation by 2013.

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or