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The QueQue

The QueQue: Tar sands to Houston, So long, ocelots, Secure Communities: backdooring national IDs, Leal execution violates international law

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

FBI rendering of biometrics

Secure Communities: backdooring national IDs

As some states and local governments try to ditch Secure Communities, much has been said both for and against the Department of Homeland Security’s fingerprint-sharing effort to snag undocumented immigrants passing through local jails. But newly released documents show that the FBI, in the shadows, helped craft the program and pushed to mandate it nationwide, hoping to make Secure Communities a key piece of the bureau’s growing biometric identification-gathering program dubbed “Next Generation Identification.”

In 2009, the FBI began leading the charge to require that all local law enforcement join Secure Communities, even though DHS still maintained the program was voluntary as much as a year later, according to internal emails and memos obtained by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Cardozo School of Law last week. Though DHS now claims the motivation behind mandating the program lies in deporting violent criminal immigrants, the documents show the FBI’s Big-Brother intentions helped lead the push to expand the program.

“Ultimately, [local law enforcement] participating is inevitable because [Secure Communities] is simply the first of a number of biometric interoperability systems being brought online by the FBI’s ‘Next Generation Identification’ (NGI) initiative,” one memo from 2009 reads. Other plans for the NGI program, meant to gather biometric info on citizens and non-citizens alike, include iris and palm-print scans along with facial recognition technology.

“These revelations should disturb us on multiple levels: the lies, the shadowy role of the FBI, the threats to citizens and non-citizens alike, and the rampant potential violations of civil liberties,” said Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez.

Three states have now attempted to pull out of Secure Communities, saying too many of those jailed for misdemeanors or taken into custody for petty violations have been deported, though the federal government now insists the program is mandatory. While acknowledging concerns over privacy and possible violations of civil liberties, the bureau pushed to mandate the program anyway, largely for “record linking/maintenance purposes,” the documents show. Jessica Karp with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network remarked, “NGI is the next generation Big Brother. It’s a backdoor route to a national ID, to be carried not in a wallet, but within the body itself.”

Leal execution violates international law

Over loud objections from the international community and a rare plea from the Obama administration, Texas marched forward with the execution of Humberto Leal last week after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly rejected his White House-backed appeal to delay the lethal injection. Gov. Rick Perry ultimately refused to grant Leal a 30-day reprieve.

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