UPDATE - INS Criminal Tracking System Under Fire

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[Fair use: For education and research purpose only] Title: Flaws in the System Allowed Resendez to Elude Authorities

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/national/032200/railkiller_side.sml

7:00 a.m. ET (1200 GMT) March 22, 2000

By Matt Santaspirt

IDENT, the INS criminal tracking system that came under fire this week in a report by the Office of Inspector General, was introduced in 1994 to more effectively track the movements of illegal aliens attempting to enter this country.

AP/Wide World Border Patrol agent Robert Perez electronically records an undocumented immigrant's fingerprint and photo; Ramirez repeatedly slipped in and out of the U.S.

The system was supposed to readily distinguish between those who have criminal records and those who do not, but the OIG pointed out flaws with IDENT this week as it criticized the INS handling of the case of Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, the alleged "railway killer" who is suspected of several murders.

First integrated into the San Diego Border Patrol Sector, by 1999 408 INS stations were using IDENT.

The system, split into two databases, identifies individuals through electronic digital comparisons of fingerprints. The "lookout" database contains records on approximately 400,000 illegal aliens who have been previously deported or who have a significant criminal history.

The "recidivist" database has information from over 1 million people who have attempted to cross the border illegally since the inception of the system.

On June 1, 1999, when Santa Teresa, N.M., Border Patrol agents placed Resendez's index fingers into the machine, three "hits" appeared listing five apprehensions  not enough for the border guard, in their estimation, to hold him. Neither his past criminal record nor any of the outstanding federal and state warrants appeared in the system.

During their investigation, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that many border patrol officials knew little or nothing about how to use IDENT, and some local authorities did not even know the system existed.

According to the report, "in the El Paso Sector, INS contractors provided training on IDENT to 127 out of approximately 700 Border Patrol agents in 1995 and 1996; one-day ENFORCE training was given to 278 agents in 1997; and two-day ENFORCE training to another 215 agents in 1997."

The report also cited several instances where local law enforcement officials requested that a "lookout" be placed at the border for Resendez, yet INS officials had never entered his criminal status into the system.

Most of the INS officials questioned by OIG stated that they did not use IDENT because they were not trained properly and did not feel comfortable using the system.

On June 10, the Del Rio Border Patrol lead intelligence officer, David Estevis, decided to place Resendez into the IDENT "lookout" database, however he did not know how to use the system.

On June 22, one day after Resendez was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list, he was placed into the "lookout" database.

Unfortunately, that was four bodies too late.

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