JULY 30, 2009
The Homeland Security agency responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws ordered a local sheriff to release dozens of illegal immigrants arrested during a recent crime suppression operation.
The three-day sweep in Arizona’s Maricopa County led to the arrest of 74 suspected illegal aliens, ten of which immediately admitted they were in the U.S. illegally. At least 25 were detained for a few days and should have been deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security which supposedly enforces immigration laws.
ICE conducts a partnership program that specifically trains local law enforcement officers to help enforce federal immigration law within their respective jurisdictions. The agency calls it one of the most successful and popular partnership initiatives as more state and local leaders have come to understand how a shared approach to immigration enforcement can benefit their communities.
Under the plan when local police arrest an illegal immigrant, ICE gets notified to take custody and begin deportation proceedings. Yet, when Maricopa County Sheriffs called ICE regarding the recently arrested illegal aliens, the agency ordered deputies to release all who did not have a criminal conviction in the U.S. This constituted a blatant violation of the partnership agreement—known as 287(g)—that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department has had for two years.
The recent sweep was the tenth conducted by the Maricopa Sheriff’s Department in an effort to clean up notoriously crime-infested areas. About half of the nearly 500 people arrested in the operations were in the country illegally and hundreds had criminal histories. The arrests have upset immigration advocates who succeeded in getting the feds to launch a racial profiling investigation of Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
This is hardly the first time that ICE fails to keep its end of the heavily touted local-federal partnership to capture illegal immigrants. Last year the agency was embroiled in several high-profile feuds with local police departments around the country involving previously arrested illegal immigrants who committed atrocious crimes after being released rather than deported.
In each tragic case, local law enforcement officials claimed that they notified ICE to put a hold on the suspect, all of which had criminal histories, yet the agency said it was never contacted. The negligence resulted in six murders and a rape in different parts of the country—Rhode Island, California and Colorado.
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