Feds to hire LexisNexis to track immigrants

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to spend $1.8 million to use LexisNexis databases in Miami Twp. to track fugitive illegal immigrants, according to government documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

The department’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement unit wants to use LexisNexis’ database services to help its Fugitive Operations Support Center find, arrest and deport at-large criminal immigrants who pose a threat to national security or community safety, the document said. Those fugitives can include members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders and undocumented immigrants with prior convictions for violent crimes.

The Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) operates as a specialized law enforcement unit that analyzes and disseminates information related to fugitive and other high-priority aliens. The center, located in Williston, Vt., accounted for more than 37,000 arrests in fiscal year 2012.

Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a professor at the University of Dayton Law School, said the use of rapid electronic information searches to target fugitives reflects “a growing trend of the government using our digital footprints to track us.”

But, he added, LexisNexis database subscriptions are available for a fee to any business or individual, so the government has the same right to access that information.

LexisNexis is to get the no-bid, one-year contract because it is the only vendor that can provide the services to assist FOSC in accomplishing its mission, according to the justification document issued Wednesday. The proposed contract runs through August 2014 at a cost of more than $1.8 million.

“The LexisNexis databases are mission-critical,” the document said. “They help to leverage emerging technology that shares secure law enforcement data between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, so that (Immigration and Customs) can continue to expand its coverage nationwide in a cost-effective manner.”

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman declined to comment.

LexisNexis has about 3,400 employees and contractors in Miami Twp. at its Legal and Professional division, which is the company’s biggest single concentration of employment.

LexisNexis officials did not respond to requests for comment.

LexisNexis is the largest aggregator of commercial published information in the country. The company’s databases include more than 45,000 legal, news, business and public record sources. They also include up-to-date information on court cases, the Accurint Search Platform to locate people and businesses, and various screening and credentialing tools.

The contract requires LexisNexis to conduct rapid electronic batch searches for information relating to immigrants who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, recent illegal entrants, and immigrants who are fugitives or otherwise obstruct immigration controls.

“The FOSC will also require a continuous monitoring and alert system to track certain alien information for new activity on a large-scale basis,” the document said. The custom alert service will allow the center to constantly monitor fugitive alien information for recent credit or other commercial activities.

In addition, FOSC may provide target-specific information for searches that return possible addresses and criminal history information, including jail-booking data.

LexisNexis’ services will be procured through FEDLINK, a unit of the Library of Congress that negotiates contracts with commercial information companies on behalf of other federal agencies. LexisNexis is offering “significant” discount in its database pricing, the document said.

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