- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 8, 2005

An FBI database that tracks the immigration statuses of detainees and illegal aliens routinely gives incorrect information to police departments, with the District and Montgomery County among those having the most problems, according to a survey released yesterday.

The report, released through the Migration Policy Institute, states that police officers nationwide who use the crime database to check the names of people they stop or detain received wrong information on immigration status nearly 9,000 times from 2002 to 2004.

About 44 percent of the mistakes likely lead to the wrongful detentions of thousands of immigrants and citizens, said Michael Wishnie, a fellow at the institute, a nonpartisan think tank that analyzes immigration. He also is one of the authors of the study, all of whom are from the New York University School of Law.

The number of erroneous reports that area police officers received was higher than the national average.

From 2002 and 2004, Virginia officers made 400 calls while those in Maryland made 283 and those in the District made 91.

Officers in the District received erroneous information about immigration status from the FBI database about 78 percent of the time.

Maryland officers received incorrect information 63 percent of the time, and Virginia officers received it 61 percent, about 20 percentage points above the national average.

The Montgomery County and the Metropolitan Police departments received more incorrect information than the national average.

“It ties up officers’ time needlessly,” Mr. Wishnie said. “It minimizes the relationships that officers have fought hard to build with immigrant communities, [and] it may lead to racial profiling by officers untrained.”

Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said, “Illegal immigration is a federal problem and a federal crime that should be addressed by the federal government.”

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat, said just weeks ago that enforcing immigration laws is the federal government’s job.

“It’s up to the White House and Congress to protect our borders,” said Mr. Duncan, a gubernatorial candidate in the 2006 election. “We want them to enforce the immigration laws and the employment laws of this country. We’re waiting for them to do that.”

The District-based Center for Immigration Studies recently reported that Maryland has about 100,000 illegal aliens, with as many as 45,000 in Montgomery County, based upon birth records.

Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Lucille Bauer said she has not seen the report but was unaware of a case in which someone was wrongfully detained through information from the database.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Kevin Morison also said he did not see the report.

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