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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 7:59am

More Counties Report Immigration Data

Four more Georgia counties have begun sharing biometric information with federal immigration authorities to help identify criminal immigrants.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, on Tuesday began the sharing program, called Secure Communities, in Clark, Habersham, Jackson and Pickens counties.

ICE says the initiative is already in effect in 34 other Georgia jurisdictions and in 1,400 jurisdictions in 43 states and territories.

The program allows arrestee fingerprint information to be checked against FBI criminal history records and biometrics-based immigration records kept by Homeland Security.

Previously, fingerprints were just checked against the Department of Justice biometric system kept by the FBI.

Critics say the program discourages immigrants from reporting crimes, and several states have declined to participate.