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Screening the Prison Systems for Illegal Aliens

In what is the first program of its kind, the Texas prison system is now capturing the digital fingerprints of the approximately 1,500 new inmates each week. These digital prints are then sent to the Department of Homeland Security. The program is intended to identify and then deport criminal aliens who have "committed serious crimes such as major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping while living illegally inside the United States."

This program is not intended to search for and deport those among the more than 11 million illegal immigrants that are otherwise law abiding. Instead, and encouragingly, this program targets the tens of thousands of criminals who already populate our prison systems.

Imprisoned criminal aliens who entered the country illegally or have disobeyed a deportation order can be processed for deportation during their prison terms to get them out of the country faster once their sentence is complete. As many as 450,000 criminal aliens are imprisoned in federal, state and local facilities across the nation.

This is clearly a good step. In the past, states and municipalities, and even federal agencies like ICE, would not deport illegal immigrants unless they had committed another crime. It is expected that California will soon follow Texas and implement a similar program. But in what could be seen as an interesting policy contradiction, The City of Oakland plans to issue photo-ID cards to illegals to enable them to ease their "access to services, improve their civic participation and encourage them to report crimes."

The two sides of Oakland's decision to issue these cards pits Ira Mehlman spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform who says, "The problem is you have cities who are aiding and abetting people who are violating federal immigration laws. It sends a message that what they are doing is OK." against Jesse Newmark, a staff attorney with Centro Legal de la Raza who said that "he was pleased with the council's most recent action, adding that the ID card is tangible confirmation of Oakland's sanctuary status."

Quite a contrast.

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