Jailers in Dallas County will soon be able to
check an inmate's criminal and immigration histories --
simultaneously.

      The "Secure Communities" program will expand to more than 50
jails around the country by next spring.

      U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the project will
allow officials to use fingerprints to access both federal criminal
and immigration records.

      When a suspect's fingerprints match those of a non-U.S. citizen,
ICE's Law Enforcement Support Center will electronically be
notified so agents can evaluate the case.

      Local law officers can't act against those flagged by the
Homeland Security database unless they're trained and authorized to
enforce immigration law under ICE supervision.

      Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration
Forum, worries about what could happen if inaccurate or outdated
information is in the database. He also sees a potential for
problems in letting local law enforcement access records on
immigration, in which violations are considered civil and not
criminal.

      Dallas County and Wake County in North Carolina are scheduled to
begin using the program tomorrow.