Agents using new technology to fingerprint suspects

Utah County, UT - (NBC) - A partnership between local agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is using an ultra-modern way of handling an old law enforcement tool: fingerprints.

It's estimated that 1 million times a year, cops arrest people who are in the country illegally or who could be deported because of their criminal record.

But the local cops usually don't know it because the bad guys play games and lie. From now on, everyone booked into jail will be fingerprinted with digital technology. All prints will be electronically compared with 100 million prints in a federal database.

"And that helps us to rapidly identify those who are repeat immigration offenders and those who have committed crimes in our communities who are violating immigration status," said Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy.

The offender wouldn't be booted out of the country until he does the time for the crime.

"And when the criminal justice system here in Utah is completed, we will take that person into our custody and we will remove them from the United States," said Homeland Security's John Morton

Everyone who's arrested gets fingerprinted, not just Hispanics. So it's even drawing praise from a long-time Hispanic advocate.

"We all want to have safe communities where we can live without fear of the criminals around us. So we welcome that," said former Utah Director of Hispanic Affairs, Tony Vapias.

"When people do bad things they must be punished," said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.

"But people need to remember that an enforcement-only solution to this just isn't going to work," Morton said.

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