On Jan. 7, Bucks County Chief Operating Officer David Sanko announced Bucks County's participation in Secure Communities, a Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice program that better identifies and removes criminal and illegal aliens from communities.The program will allow police officers to obtain the immigration history of individuals arrested and taken to Bucks and Montgomery County correction facilities. Secure Communities will bring changes to what information local authorities can access when processing suspects.

The new program will allow police officers to not only check The detainee's fingerprints against the Department of Justice's FBI database, but also against The Department of Homeland Security's database that contains biometrics-based immigration records.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be automatically notified when non-U.S. citizens are in custody. ICE officers will then interview The detainees and will prioritize their removal based on the threat they pose to the community.

"Information sharing is critical to all agencies' public safety efforts, and we're proud to be taking another step forward to do our part here in Bucks County," said Commissioner James Cawley.

Bucks and Montgomery counties are the only two counties in Pennsylvania participating in the program. Only 11 other sites nationwide have Secure Communities in place.

"This effort is important for Bucks County because it joins together local law enforcement with other federal agencies to achieve the common goal of removing criminal aliens that pose a threat to our communities," said Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry.

Natalya Bucuy is a freelance writer for The Free Press. She can be reached at tfp@berksmontnews.com

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