Technology Enhancements to Fingerprint Databases Increase Information to Federal, State and Local Partners

Sept. 11, 2006
Enhancements will provide access to immigration history via biometric submission

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today technology enhancements to DHS and Department of Justice's (DOJ) fingerprint databases that will further improve access and information sharing among immigration and law enforcement officials. The changes set the stage for a pilot program between federal authorities and the Boston Police Department.

These technology enhancements represent the first in a series of three phases to achieve full interoperability of US-VISIT's fingerprint database, IDENT, and the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). US-VISIT is transitioning from collecting two to 10 fingerprints to enable greater accuracy when identifying travelers and to complement IAFIS' 10-fingerprint system. The technology enhancement announced today is an important next step in this move.

The first phase of enhancements will provide state and local law enforcement with access to immigration history which is based on biometric and biographic information through one, single biometric submission to these databases. Currently, fingerprints must be submitted separately for criminal and immigration verifications. Also, the improvement provides for an automatic notification of any derogatory immigration information, eliminating the need for such information to be manually requested.

An automatic alert will also be sent to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Law Enforcement Support Center when the fingerprints of a suspected criminal, being processed by local law enforcement, are found to belong to someone with an immigration violation. ICE can use this information to take appropriate action against the suspect.

The Department of State consular officers and DHS border and immigration officers will have access to an additional number of FBI wants and warrants when making visa issuing and admissibility decisions, and when taking law enforcement actions. Likewise, the FBI and state and local law enforcement will have the ability to query a larger population of Category One visa refusals and all expedited removals. All information exchanges comply with the Privacy Act and existing privacy policies.

During the second phase of enhancements, DHS and DOJ plan to further increase the amount of data they exchange. The third and final phase for achieving database interoperability will provide a complete view of a person's criminal and immigration history; thereby enhancing the ability of state and local authorities to develop comprehensive criminal and immigration histories and threat assessments.

A DHS priority, US-VISIT enhances the security of our citizens and visitors, facilitates legitimate travel and trade, ensures the integrity of our immigration system and protects personal privacy. To date, more than 64 million visitors to the United States have been processed through US-VISIT without adversely impacting wait times, and more than 1,300 criminals or immigration violators have been intercepted as a result of the use of biometrics.