More undocumented immigrants being shipped out

More undocumented immigrants being shipped out »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Deporting undocumented immigrants has gotten a lot easier at Benton and Franklin County jails, due to a fingerprinting system that went into effect almost three years ago. KEPR pulled the numbers to see how effective it's been - and met with an organization that believes the program is inherently biased.

It starts with the simple scan of a fingerprint. And before you know it, some of the Tri-Cities' most dangerous inmates are being shipped back to their home country. The Franklin County Sheriff has been in full support.

"Any slack that was there, any gaps, it kind of just filled that in for us," said Sheriff Richard Lathim.

Before the program known as "Secure Communities" went into effect in the summer of 2011, undocumented immigrants were tracked by pen and paper.

"It's good to identify people that have maybe given us false information about who they are. And it's just another area to confirm who they are and if they don't belong here or they have previous issues that they're not to be in this country. It's a good safeguard," Lathim said.

Almost 200 undocumented immigrants were deported in Benton County in the past three years, and almost 350 in Franklin County.

An organization called OneAmerica is against the Secure Communities program. They want it gone.

"We are so frugal about taking care of our government and the money we spend and everything, and we're spending money on people who are here trying to make a better life for themselves, and that's all they're doing," said OneAmerica representative Consuelo Pedroza.

Pedroza says she's seen too many instances where people commit minor crimes and end up getting tossed.

"It's like walking on eggshells for these poor people," she said.

But law enforcement insists the program is meant to take care of the most dangerous people, but any crime is still a risk for the community.

"It's not only the cost, but it's also, if they're committing crimes against our citizens, then that's not good either. And that's one of the responsibilities of our government is to protect our citizens and their safety and welfare," said Sheriff Lathim.

Homeland Security pays for Secure Communities, which still comes out of your pocket.