“James Makowski’s lawsuit ‘argues that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security violated the Privacy Act of 1974’ because the government agencies share fingerprints from people who are suspected of immigration violations.”
A U.S. citizen is suing the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security after the fingerprint-sharing program Secure Communities incorrectly identified him as an undocumented immigrant. When Chicago resident James Makowski pleaded guilty in December 2010 to a felony charge and sentenced to four months at a drug treatment facility, the controversial program flagged Makowski as an undocumented immigrant, and he spent two months in a maximum-security prison before immigration officials stopped his erroneous deportation order.
Makowski’s lawsuit — the first legal challenge to Secure Communities — “argues that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security violated the Privacy Act of 1974” because the government agencies share fingerprints from people who are suspected of immigration violations:
“The FBI and DHS are consistently and systematically violating the Privacy Act,” said Fleming, a lawyer for the National Immigrant Justice Center, a nonprofit advocacy group in Chicago. “The FBI should not be sharing this data if they have indications that this individual is a U.S. citizen.” [...]
Secure Communities was started by President George W. Bush in 2008, and the FBI has sent more than 16 million fingerprints to the immigration database since then. More than 900,000 were flagged as potential immigration violators, records show.
The other 15 million sets of fingerprints likely belonged to U.S. citizens, the lawsuit alleges, and their transmission violates the Privacy Act.