Follow-up Review of the Status of IDENT/IAFIS Integration

E & I Report No. I-2005-001
December 2004


Appendix 1

Background on FBI and INS Automated
Fingerprint Identification Databases


United States immigration authorities have long recognized the need for an automated fingerprint identification system to quickly determine the immigration and criminal histories of aliens apprehended at or near the border. More than one million aliens are apprehended each year attempting to enter the United States illegally. Many of these aliens are apprehended in large groups, and the Border Patrol lacks the resources to detain them for extended periods of time. Consequently, the vast majority are voluntarily returned to their country of origin, mostly to Mexico, without any criminal charges being filed.

Immigration authorities need to be able to quickly determine which of these aliens should be detained for prosecution based on multiple illegal entries, reentering the United States after a prior deportation, alien smuggling, a current arrest warrant, or a criminal record. Historically, in order to identify which individuals to detain for possible prosecution or deportation, the INS had to rely on the names provided by the apprehended aliens and check them against its databases or other paper records. This method was ineffective because aliens often used false or different names. Also, many aliens have similar names, and spelling errors result in problems identifying individuals accurately.

Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT)

In 1989, Congress provided the initial funding for the INS to develop an automated fingerprint identification system that eventually became known as IDENT. While one of the main purposes of IDENT was to identify and prosecute repeat immigration offenders, another significant purpose was to identify criminal aliens who should be detained. The 1989 conference report described Congressís rationale for funding the project:

    Illegal immigration continues at alarming rates, and criminal alien statistics provided by the INS indicate that a growing proportion of aliens are drug smugglers, known criminals, and suspected terrorists. Emerging technology in the area of automated fingerprint identification systems has the potential for providing empirical data to clearly define the problem of recidivism as well as immediately identify those criminal aliens who should remain in the custody of the INS (emphasis added).70

Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS)

At about the same time, the FBI began to overhaul its paper-based fingerprint card system, which it had maintained since the 1920s, to create a new automated fingerprint identification system that would allow electronic searches for fingerprint matches. Since the 1920s the FBIís Identification Division has maintained a central repository of ten-prints of criminal offendersí fingerprints. In 1967, the FBI created the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to provide a national database of computerized information on individuals with active Wants and Warrants, stolen articles, vehicles, guns, license plates, and other data. Fingerprint information for wanted and missing persons is submitted by participating federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, of which over 80,000 have access to NCIC. In February 1990, the NCIC Advisory Policy Board recommended that the FBI update its paper-based fingerprint identification system and create a new automated system, which eventually became known as the FBIís IAFIS. IAFIS currently contains in its Criminal Master File over 47 million ten-print criminal fingerprint records that can be electronically compared against submitted fingerprints. During 1990 and 1991, the INS and FBI met to discuss possible coordination of their planned automated fingerprint identification systems. They discussed how the FBIís IAFIS and the INSís proposed system could be linked to ensure uniform high-quality fingerprint image and electronic transmission standards for fingerprints and identification data so that they could be transmitted among different fingerprint identification systems.

From the start, the INS and the FBI recognized that integration of their separate automated fingerprint identification systems would benefit both agencies. An integrated system would reduce the likelihood that INS would release an alien who had a serious criminal record and prior deportations. It also would enable federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities to search latent fingerprints against an immigration database of illegal border crossers, especially if ten rolled fingerprints were taken.

III. IMPLEMENTATION OF SEPARATE FBI AND INS DATABASES

Two versus Ten Fingerprints

An early difference of opinion between the INS and the FBI was whether the INS should take two fingerprints or ten fingerprints from the aliens it apprehended. The FBI, along with state and local law enforcement agencies, believed that the INS should take ten rolled fingerprints so that they could be matched against ten-fingerprint records in the law enforcement databases or any latent fingerprints obtained at crime scenes. Because fingerprints at crime scenes may be from any finger, the long-established law enforcement standard requires that officers take fingerprints from all ten fingers.

The INS emphasized that a fast response time was critical because the INS could not detain large numbers of apprehended aliens for long periods of time while waiting for responses to criminal checks. The INS believed that taking ten fingerprints of all apprehended aliens would take too long and would adversely affect its ability to carry out its mission.

Between 1991 and 1993, the INS operated a pilot Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) project in the San Diego Border Patrol Sector. In 1994, Congress allocated funding for the INSís automated system. During an April 1994 meeting regarding the deployment of IDENT, the FBI told the INS that without additional development time and money, the FBIís planned IAFIS system could not meet the INSís need to handle a high volume of fingerprints (for more than one million aliens apprehended annually), and provide the quick response time (two minutes or less) for each encounter. Further, the FBI said that the alternative of searching and matching the two fingerprints captured by IDENT against the FBIís planned IAFIS ten-fingerprint database would require much more computer power than the FBI had in order to provide the response time that the INS needed.

Therefore, in 1994 the INS decided to move forward with implementation of its separate IDENT system, independent from the FBIís IAFIS system. In order to meet its own needs, the FBI decided that its automated fingerprint system, IAFIS, would contain all ten fingerprints and provide a response in two hours for high priority electronic requests and a longer time for lower priority and non-electronic requests.

The Border Patrolís Use of IDENT

The INSís IDENT system was designed to automatically alert personnel at the Western Identification Network Automated Fingerprint Identification Center (WIN/AFIS) whenever IDENT returned a lookout hit indicating an outstanding warrant for an apprehended alien.71 INS procedures required WIN/AFIS personnel promptly telephone the apprehending Border Patrol personnel to confirm the lookout match and to inform the Border Patrol agents of the nature of the warrant and the contact numbers for the appropriate law enforcement officials regarding the warrant. This contact generally occurs within one hour. A Border Patrol supervisor then contacts law enforcement officials who issued the warrant to determine whether they want to pay for and transport the alien to their jurisdiction for prosecution.

Typically, if the issuing authorities do not want the alien transported, and there is no other reason to detain the alien, the Border Patrol voluntarily returns the alien across the border. However, some circumstances warrant further detention and investigation. For example, if a processing agent learns Ė usually from the alien himself, or through prior IDENT entries from previous apprehensions Ė that the alien has a prior criminal history, the Border Patrol may seek the prosecution of the alien for the offense of Entry Without Inspection.72 Also, if the agent learns that the alien has a prior deportation, the law requires reinstatement of the prior order of deportation, and the alien is not eligible for voluntary return to Mexico.73 Upon learning of the prior deportation, the processing agent should confirm the alienís prior criminal history.

Moreover, an alien likely will be prosecuted for the felony charge of Reentry After Deportation if the alien has a record of a prior felony or aggravated felony. A conviction for Reentry After Deportation carries a potential sentence of up to 10 yearsí imprisonment for an alien with a prior criminal record of a felony or three misdemeanors, or a sentence of up to 20 yearsí imprisonment for an alien with a prior aggravated felony conviction pursuant to ß 1326(b).

The agents at Border Patrol stations that do not have direct access to the FBIís criminal records must telephone the Border Patrol sectorís communications office, commonly known as the "radio room," which has direct links to various criminal and immigration databases. These databases include the FBIís NCIC; immigration databases containing records of prior immigration contacts with the alien, such as deportations; and a DHS database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System/Interagency Border Inspection System (TECS/IBIS), which is typically used by inspectors at ports of entry to check incoming travelers.

Because the Border Patrol lacks the manpower to conduct separate criminal and immigration history checks for every apprehended alien, these additional database checks are requested for only the small fraction of the apprehended aliens whose behavior, appearances, outstanding warrants, or other information in IDENT raises concerns with the Border Patrol agents processing the aliens.

JMDís Fingerprint Database Integration Efforts

In the mid-1990ís, the Attorney General established a Fingerprint Coordination Working Group, which included representatives from the INS and the FBI, to address problems in fingerprint procedures. As part of this effort, the Departmentís Justice Management Division (JMD) reviewed integration issues of the INS and FBI automated fingerprint identification systems, and attempted to coordinate the integration of their separate systems.

In March 1998, the OIG issued a report evaluating the INSís implementation of IDENT.74 The OIG found that the INS was enrolling less than two-thirds of the aliens apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border into the IDENT system. In addition, the INS was entering into the IDENT lookout database the fingerprints of only 41 percent of the aliens deported and denied admission into the United States in FY 1996. Of these aliens, only 24 percent had accompanying photographs entered into IDENT, even though the INS relied on photographs as an important method of confirming identification. The OIG found virtually no controls in place to ensure the quality of data entered into the IDENT lookout database, which resulted in duplicate records and invalid data. The OIG report also raised concerns that the INS had not provided sufficient training to its employees on the use of IDENT, and that these failures hampered the INSís ability to make consistent and effective use of IDENT.

Two months later, in May 1998, in response to a letter from Congressman Alan Mollohan urging that consideration be given to integrating the IDENT and IAFIS systems, JMD issued a report recommending that the INS retain IDENT to meet INS internal requirements, but that the INS adopt ten-printing as a long-term policy goal. The JMD report concluded that, properly funded, this option would permit the Border Patrol to maintain processing times while providing other law enforcement agencies with a fingerprint database that could be searched. The report also recommended a 12-month pilot study, to begin in the fall of 1999, of a ten-fingerprint system in selected Border Patrol stations.

IV. THE RESENDEZ CASE

In 1999, the consequences of INSís inability to identify criminal aliens without integrated IAFIS and IDENT databases were illustrated tragically by the case of Rafael Resendez-Ramirez (Resendez).75 In 1998, the Border Patrol in Texas and New Mexico apprehended Resendez, a Mexican citizen with an extensive criminal record, seven times while crossing the border illegally. Each time he was voluntarily returned to Mexico.

Unbeknownst to the agents who apprehended and voluntarily returned Resendez in accord with normal Border Patrol policy, Resendez had an extensive criminal history in the United States. He had been convicted previously on at least eight separate occasions for crimes that included aggravated felonies. Resendez also had been previously deported to Mexico at least three times and voluntarily returned to Mexico by the INS at least four times.

During each of the seven apprehensions in 1998, the Border Patrol agents who processed Resendez through IDENT did not learn of his criminal record or past deportations. Because IDENT was not integrated with IAFIS, and because IDENT only included information about apprehended aliens on a day-forward basis, IDENT did not contain any information about Resendezís past convictions and deportations. Also, because Resendez had been apprehended less than the threshold number of times for prosecution for Entry Without Inspection, the Border Patrol agents simply enrolled Resendez in IDENT on each of these encounters and voluntarily returned him to Mexico. They were not required to check, and did not check, FBI databases for criminal history information and outstanding warrants on him.

In early 1999, evidence linked Resendez to several brutal murders in Texas and Kentucky, and warrants were issued for his arrest. Other federal and local law enforcement authorities contacted INS personnel at least four times to discuss the warrants and the evidence against Resendez, and to ensure that the INS placed a lookout for Resendez in the event that he was apprehended again while illegally entering the country. Yet, none of the INS investigators who were contacted by the law enforcement officers thought to have a lookout placed for Resendez in IDENT based on the warrants, either because the INS investigators were unfamiliar with IDENT, or because they thought it was the job of others to enter the warrants.

On June 1, 1999 Ė at the same time that state and federal warrants for Resendez were outstanding and law enforcement officers were searching for Resendez in connection with several murders Ė Border Patrol agents in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, apprehended Resendez again crossing the border illegally. They processed him in IDENT according to their standard practice. IDENT identified Resendez as a recidivist border crosser, but nothing in IDENT alerted the Border Patrol agents that he was wanted for murder by the FBI and local law enforcement authorities. Nor did IDENT disclose Resendezís extensive criminal history. Therefore, the Border Patrol did not detain Resendez and, following its standard policy, voluntarily returned him to Mexico. Within days, Resendez illegally returned to the United States and committed four more murders.

In mid-June 1999, a Border Patrol Intelligence Officer in Texas enrolled Resendez into the IDENT lookout database to ensure that he would be detained if encountered again by the INS. At that time, the Border Patrol discovered that its agents had recently released Resendez despite the outstanding warrant for his arrest for murder. Finally, On July 13, 1999, Resendez surrendered to U.S. law enforcement authorities and on May 18, 2000, he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

V. RENEWED EMPHASIS ON INTEGRATION OF IDENT AND IAFIS

In July 1999, a House Committee on Appropriations report, with the Resendez incident clearly in mind, stated:

    [T]he Committee continues to be concerned about the inadequacies of this system [IDENT], specifically with regard to its ability to identify wanted criminals who may be apprehended by INS Border Patrol agents and inspectors along the borderÖthe Committee repeatedly raised concerns that the IDENT database was not integrated with FBIís IAFIS database.

Law Enforcement Access to INS Data

The House Report expressed the belief that federal, state, and local law enforcement should have access to INS fingerprint information and that the INS should have the full benefit of FBI criminal history records. The House report directed the INS to suspend further deployment of IDENT until the Department submitted to the House Appropriations committee a plan for integration of IDENT and IAFIS. The Conference Report for the Departmentís FY 2000 appropriations included this provision.

JMD Assigned to Coordinate Integration

In response to the Congressional directive, the Department assigned JMD to coordinate the efforts to develop an integration plan. On August 12, 1999, JMD convened a "Fingerprint Summit" meeting, attended by representatives of the FBI and INS, to discuss a plan for integrating IDENT and IAFIS. The conceptual model agreed to at that meeting required that the INS be able to check fingerprints of apprehended aliens against all fingerprint records in IAFIS and that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies be able to access the INSís fingerprint records through IAFIS.

JMD issues integration report. On March 1, 2000, JMDís Management Planning Staff issued a report entitled "Implementation Plan for Integrating the INSí IDENT and the FBIís IAFIS Fingerprint Data." The report stated that, "The INS and FBI have acknowledged that integrating IDENT with IAFIS would greatly benefit both agencies, as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement." The report further stated that such integration:

    has the potential to: reduce the likelihood that a wanted individual would be released from the INSí custody; provide federal, state, and local law enforcement an integrated picture of the criminal activity known by agencies in DOJ, including the INS histories of illegal border crossers; and enable federal, state, and local law enforcement to search latent prints against additional illegal border crossers, especially if ten-prints are taken.

The report discussed various options for integration, but directed that before any recommendation would be finalized, the INS, the FBI, and JMD would conduct three studies:

    (1) a criminality study that would estimate the percentage of apprehended illegal aliens who had been charged with more serious crimes;

    (2) an engineering study that would produce a cost analysis for the integration, including alternative query response times; and

    (3) an operational impact study that would assess the effect that such changes as taking ten prints would have on operations and procedures at the border.

OIG Issues Resendez Report

Also in March 2000, the OIG issued its report on the Resendez case.76 The OIG report noted that integration of IDENT and IAFIS would provide what the IDENT lookout database did not Ė a check of all apprehended aliens to determine whether they have serious criminal records, prior orders of deportation, or any outstanding arrest warrants. The report recommended that the Department and its components should aggressively and expeditiously link the FBI and INS automated fingerprint systems.

The Department Conducts Three Integration Studies

From June 2000 through July 2001, the Department conducted the three studies in support of the integration project. First, the Operational Impact Study concluded that it might be feasible for the INS to take ten rolled fingerprints in many locations and check them against the FBIís IAFIS files if the INS could receive a response from the FBI within 10 minutes, except for high volume workload periods. Second, the Engineering/System Development Study concluded that IAFIS could not be searched using the IDENT two-fingerprint system in the volume and within the response time that the INS required. This study proposed an alternative approach requiring the INS to collect ten rolled fingerprints (in addition to continuing to separately take two fingerprints for IDENT). Third, the Criminality Study (based on a sample of the recidivist database) projected that a total of 136,000 (8.5 percent) of the approximately 1.6 million aliens apprehended each year by the Border Patrol and allowed instead to voluntarily depart would be detained if their fingerprints were matched against IAFIS and their criminal histories were checked.

JMD Announces Incremental Deployment of IDENT/IAFIS

In January 2001, JMD issued its FY 2002 budget request, which stated that incremental versions of the IDENT/IAFIS database would be deployed in FY 2001, with a fully integrated version deployed in FYs 2006-7. The JMD plan called for deployment during FY 2001 of Version 1, a single ten-fingerprint workstation capable of querying IDENT using index fingerprints and IAFIS using ten fingerprints. The electronic IAFIS response would indicate a match or no match. When there was a match, IAFIS would electronically transmit the criminal rap sheet to the workstation from which the query was made.

JMD revises its plan. However, in August 2001 JMD revised its plan to slow the pace of the integration project because of concerns about operational issues relating to the Departmentís ability to handle the additional workload and the costs of detaining criminal aliens as projected by the criminality study. JMD also sought the delay to further study the additional workload and costs and to monitor developing biometric technologies to ensure that the Department did not commit large sums of money to an integration plan that would not take advantage of future technological advances. As a result of this revised plan, JMD reduced its original FY 2002 budget request for the integration project from $38 million to $9 million.77 Also, the anticipated time frame for completing the first integrated version was delayed one year Ė from December 2001 until December 2002.

USA Patriot Act Enacted

In October 2001, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, Public Law 107-56 (the Patriot Act). The Patriot Act directed the expedited implementation of an integrated entry/exit data system, including the use of biometric technology.78 The Patriot Act also required that the FBI share with the INS wanted-persons information in IAFIS to determine whether an applicant for admission at a port of entry has a criminal record. Finally, the Patriot Act required that the Department report to Congress on enhancing IAFIS and other identification systems to better identify aliens who may be wanted before their entry to or exit from the United States.79 Subsequent Department responses to Congress regarding the Patriot Act indicated that an integrated IDENT/IAFIS was to be an integral tool to identify terrorist or criminal aliens attempting to enter the United States.

Wants and Warrants Records Added to IDENT

The selected input of FBI criminal records into the IDENT database over the past few years has illustrated the large number of criminal aliens who are regularly apprehended by the Border Patrol. The Wants and Warrants were added to IDENT in August 2001. From December 2001 to April 2003, 152,000 FBI Wants and Warrants fingerprint records were entered into IDENT. From January 2002 to April 2003, immigration authorities apprehended 4,820 aliens who were wanted for criminal offenses based on these records. Fifty of these aliens were wanted in connection with murder. During the same period, an additional 179,500 IAFIS criminal history fingerprint records of aliens from countries believed to be a threat to the United States were entered into IDENT and immigration personnel have matched these criminal records to 3,440 apprehended aliens.

OIG Issues Follow-up Report

In December 2001, the OIG issued another follow-up report examining the status of the continuing efforts to integrate IDENT and IAFIS.80 The report concluded that the Department had moved slowly toward integrating the two fingerprint systems. As of December 2001, JMDís plans for the deployment of the final version of the integrated database had been delayed another year (for a total of 2 years). The OIG report recommended that the Department continue to seek expeditious linkage of the FBI and INS automated fingerprint systems, and to continue to use IDENT while the integration was proceeding. The OIG report also supported the interim measure of immediately adding to the IDENT lookout database IAFIS fingerprint records for aliens with outstanding Wants and Warrants, as well as adding fingerprint records for Known or Suspected Terrorists.

OIG report found problems in IDENTís lack of integration with IAFIS. Thus, while the IDENT database is a useful tool for identifying recidivist aliens who continue to enter the United States illegally, its lack of integration with the FBIís IAFIS database results in significant problems. First, IDENT contains only a fraction of the Criminal Master File fingerprint records in the FBI IAFIS database Ė limited to the Wants and Warrants that the FBI and United States Marshals Service have entered into IDENT since August 2001 and the criminal history fingerprint records of aliens from certain countries believed to pose a security risk to the United States.

Second, the criminal history rap sheets which would help determine which aliens warrant prosecution were not automatically transmitted to the agents. As a result, Border Patrol agents may fail to take the extra steps needed to query the alienís criminal history information or, when Border Patrol agents initiate criminal history checks, the results may not be communicated to the processing agent (either by WIN/AFIS, the radio room, or assisting agents) in an accurate or timely manner. Third, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have a limited ability to access IDENT fingerprint records through their systems in order to make use of the immigration records in their investigations.

In June 2003, we reported that the IDENT/IAFIS integration project had fallen at least two years behind schedule.81 At that time, the next major project milestone was deployment of the initial integrated version of IDENT/IAFIS, Version 1.2. Originally scheduled for December 2001, that deployment experienced a series of delays while JMD studied the operational costs of the integration (called the Metrics Study) and while the INS focused on developing the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS).82

We also reported that the integration project was at risk of further delays because JMD had not developed a transition plan for continued management of the project after the INS transferred to the DHS in March 2003. Moreover, JMD had not prepared a revised schedule for completing the full integration of IDENT and IAFIS. We found that the lack of planning resulted in confusion over whether JMD or the DHS would manage the development and deployment of the integration project. We also noted the potential loss of expertise as the DHS reassigned individuals experienced in IDENT away from the stalled integration project. The delays and lack of planning we noted for the integration project were troubling because the interim enhancements made to IDENT had resulted in an impressive record of helping to identify wanted aliens.

Our June 2003 report recommended that JMD coordinate with the DHS to identify the management, deployment, and operational issues raised by the INS transfer to the DHS; prepare a revised project deployment plan; and report quarterly on the progress and interim results of the Metrics Study. We concluded that as of January 2004, some progress has been made in deploying the initial integrated versions of IDENT/IAFIS, but the integration process continued to proceed slowly. IDENT Version 1.1+ workstations had been deployed to approximately 56 DHS sites, including 25 ports of entry and 31 Border Patrol stations.83 That represents about 12 percent of all ports of entry, and about 20 percent of all Border Patrol sites.84

JMD Metrics Study Findings

The first Metrics Study report sent to Congress on July 18, 2003, estimated that, as a result of improved IAFIS access, the Border Patrol was able to obtain additional criminal history information that it would not have known about for between 8.8 percent and 10.3 percent of the aliens it apprehended at the Metrics sites. Preliminary Metrics data from October through December 2003, with all sites deploying Version 1.1+, suggested that access to IAFIS provided criminal history information to the Border Patrol on between 8.5 and 11.8 percent of apprehended aliens that would not have been known by searching IDENT alone. From October 1, 2003, until January 31, 2004, the Border Patrol had 9,650 criminal hits from IAFIS that, including hits for aliens wanted in connection with 13 murders.

The FBI continued to electronically update every two weeks the Wants and Warrants file that goes into the IDENT lookout database. Every month, the FBI also provides to the lookout database an updated Known and Suspected Terrorist file, which includes fingerprint records the FBI has acquired from various law enforcement and security sources. From October 2003 until January 31, 2004, the DHS received 3,034 hits on apprehended aliens from the updated Wants and Warrants file, including 399 hits for aliens wanted for violent crimes.

JMD Revises Project Schedule

JMD revised the official project schedule to reflect the delays that had been incurred through September 2003. According to JMD officials, the DHS will determine the date by which Version 1.2 is deployed nationwide. The revised schedule indicates that the final version, Version 2 Ė which will provide the important capability for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to access the DHSís fingerprint and criminal history databases Ė will not be completed before August 2008. That is more than 5 years later than Version 2 originally was scheduled to be deployed, and almost 2 years behind the original scheduled completion date for the entire integration project. However, according to JMD officials, the scope and phasing of the entire project has undergone a thorough revision. Version 2 will incorporate what was referred to as Versions 2, 3, and 4 in the original project plan.

VI. THE BATRES CASE

In 2002, another high-profile case demonstrated the urgent need for integration of IDENT and IAFIS. Like the earlier Resendez case, this case tragically illustrated the danger of requiring immigration agents at individual Border Patrol stations to decide when they should research an apprehended alienís criminal history rather than relying on an integrated database that matches an alienís fingerprints and automatically transmits a criminal history rap sheet to the Border Patrol station within 10 minutes.

The Batres report examined the case of a Mexican citizen, Victor Manual Batres, who had been detained by the Border Patrol on two occasions in January 2002 for illegally entering the United States. On each occasion, the Border Patrol returned him voluntarily to Mexico. They did this because IDENT and IAFIS were not integrated and the apprehending Border Patrol agents did not learn of Batresí extensive criminal record or past deportation. If his full history had been learned, according to Border Patrol policies he should have been detained and prosecuted. Instead, after his voluntary return to Mexico, Batres illegally reentered the United States and traveled to Oregon in September 2002 where he brutally raped two Catholic nuns, resulting in the death of one of the nuns.

The Resendez and Batres cases both demonstrated the urgent need to integrate the separate FBI and DHS fingerprint identification databases. In the Resendez case, the INS failed to provide adequate training in IDENT policies and failed to ensure adequate understanding and use of IDENT throughout the INS. As a result, Resendezís fingerprint record in IAFIS was not entered into IDENT. In the Batres case, the Batres IAFIS fingerprint record was entered into IDENT but his criminal history rap sheet was not automatically forwarded to the immigration agents who never requested it for review.

In these two cases, had the immigration agents been made aware of the information in the FBI databases, both Batres and Resendez would have been detained and likely incarcerated instead of being voluntarily returned to Mexico, where they subsequently were able to return to the United States and commit additional crimes.

Batres Report Findings and Recommendations

In March 2004, the Office of the Inspector General issued, "IDENT/IAFIS: The Batres Case and the Status of the Integration Project." The report again found delays in the effort to integrate the IDENT and IAFIS databases. While the report found some progress in deploying an integrated version of IDENT/IAFIS, we concluded that full integration of the two systems remained years away. The report found that the current projections from the DHS were that the two systems would not be fully integrated until at least August 2008, almost two years behind the original scheduled completion date for the full project. The report also found uncertainty as to who will be responsible for the overall management of the integration project. We also found that the integration project had been slowed by the attention placed by the DHS on other technology projects, such as US-VISIT. In addition, the transfer of the INS to the DHS had caused delays in the integration project.

The OIG report made the following recommendations to assist the Department of Justice in expediting integration of IDENT/IAFIS:

  • Develop and implement a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the DHS to guide the integration of IDENT and IAFIS;85

  • Assign responsibility for coordinating and overseeing the integration project to a senior Department official;

  • Pursue expeditiously the development of the integrated version of IDENT/IAFIS which will provide the DHS apprehension and criminal history information to other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies;

  • Work with the DHS to update IDENT with FBI information on a daily, rather than bi-weekly, basis; and

  • Coordinate with the DHS to establish procedures to ensure that the criminal histories of all aliens who have a lookout or IAFIS hit are provided to and reviewed by the Border Patrol.


Footnotes

  1. See H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 100-979 at 30, accompanying H.R. 4728, 100th CONG., 2d SESS. (1988).

  2. Formed in 1989, WIN/AFIS contains information from state and federal criminal justice agencies in seven Western states. Its database contains about 2.5 million arrest records from those member states and from the INS. Its fingerprint search capabilities are provided by a large-scale AFIS installation in Sacramento, California. An additional unit called the INS WIN/AFIS Service Center provided technical support to INS facilities performing criminal searches in WIN and handled WIN registrations. The INS WIN/AFIS Service Center operates 7 days a week, 24 hours per day, and it staffed by contract employees who were qualified fingerprint examiners and who could make fingerprint matches.
  3. While the Border Patrol technically could bring this charge to every illegal entry, it is not feasible to bring charges to each apprehended alien because of the effect on prosecutorial, judicial, and detention resources.
  4. See 8 USC § 1231(a)(5).
  5. See "Review of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Automated Biometric Identification System," March 1998.
  6. The facts of the Resendez case are detailed in a March 2000 OIG report entitled, "The Rafael Resendez-Ramirez Case: A Review of the INS's Actions and the Operation of Its IDENT Automated Fingerprint Identification System."
  7. "The Rafael Resendez-Ramirez Case: A Review of the INS's Actions and the Operation of Its IDENT Automated Fingerprint Identification System."
  8. The $38 million included $10 million for IDENT system operation and maintenance costs, but no funds for increased operational costs for the INS.
  9. The Data Management Improvement Act of 2000 directed the implementation of an integrated entry/exit data system (US-VISIT) and assigned deadlines for completion of the system.
  10. As of January 2004, the FBI's CJIS Division had not completed the Attorney General's report.
  11. See OIG report entitled "Status of IDENT/IAFIS Integration," December 2001.
  12. See OIG report entitled "Status of IDENT/IAFIS Integration," June 2003.
  13. NSEERS is a national registry for nonimmigrant aliens arriving from certain countries to the United States, or aliens meeting intelligence-based criteria and identified as presenting an elevated security concern. NSEERS, which collected background, travel, and departure information and fingerprints, was the first step taken by DOJ and then DHS to comply with the congressionally mandated requirement for a comprehensive entry/exit program by 2005. Although the NSEERS Program was superseded by the US-VISIT Program, NSEERS registration continues.
  14. Version 1.1+ workstations could take ten rolled fingerprints and simultaneously query the IDENT and IAFIS databases to provide a rapid response for potential matches from IAFIS in less than 10 minutes.
  15. In addition, another 56 locations [ports of entry, Border Patrol stations, and District Offices] had received the unintegrated Version 1.1.1, which required that aliens be processed twice in order to check both the IDENT lookout database and the IAFIS criminal history records.
  16. The Conference Report accompanying the FY 2004 omnibus appropriations legislation directed the DOJ to develop an MOU with the DHS and other appropriate federal agencies regarding the continued integration of fingerprint systems.