Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in Lexington on Thursday to talk to local leaders, announced a new system for the Fayette County Detention Center that allows officials to more easily identify people who have broken the law somewhere else and the immigration status of aliens who are booked into the facility.
Under the new system, fingerprints taken from individuals as they are booked into the jail will be checked against databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Kentucky State Police, according to Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt, whose deputies will be handling the new system at the jail. If the integrated records check results in a match, local and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are notified simultaneously so they can act quickly, a Homeland Security Web site indicates.
Lexington joins about 660 jurisdictions in having the new system, Napolitano said. Homeland Security wants every jurisdiction in the country to have it by 2013.
"We want to remove criminal aliens," she said.
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Witt said the Lexington jail's system will do more than identify people who have committed crimes elsewhere and people who are in this country illegally.
She said there will be a news conference about the new system at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the detention center.
Napolitano, who spoke at a law enforcement forum at Commerce Lexington and to the Herald-Leader's editorial board before heading to Louisville to talk to leaders there, told the editorial board that terrorism threats are ever-changing. She cited the growth in homegrown, violent extremists as one example.
"It makes partnership of state and local law enforcement all the more important," she said.
Napolitano also said that more illegal drugs, cash and weapons are being seized than ever before and more illegal immigrants are being removed from the United States than ever before.
"All we can do is produce the results and talk about them," she said in response to a question about how illegal immigration is portrayed on talk shows.
Those who attended the local forum, which included business people, she said, were concerned about consistency in dealing with the federal government and what they saw as an inadequate number of available visas for workers.