Silently and without fanfare, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has activated in every county in Washington a controversial program that will allow the fingerprints of everyone booked into local jails to be checked against a national immigration database.
Secure Communities, as the federal program is known, now exists in all 39 Washington counties as well as in jurisdictions in 45 other states.
The program expands on one ICE already operates nationwide that allows its officers to check the names of those who've been booked into local jails and prisons against ICE's own national database.
Secure Communities uses fingerprints instead of names. The prints, once collected, are funneled through a state database to the FBI, where ICE can access them, checking them against its own databases for matches.
ICE has said it ultimately would be able to implement the program nationwide without state approval — and would do so by 2013. In recent months, it began activating it in holdout states