Freedom Folks

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Enforcement First?

As our president blathers on and on about his desire to enforce immigration laws, he has a funny way of showing he's serious...

Source: AZ Star Net
A dispute over jurisdiction between federal immigration agents and the sheriff’s office in Arizona’s most populous county is allowing some illegal immigrants to walk out of jail.

Since the first arrests made in March under Arizona’s human-smuggling law, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has filed 268 cases – 31 against suspected coyotes and the rest against suspected conspirators assumed to be undocumented immigrants.
So far, 63 have pleaded guilty to lesser offenses, 15 have been dismissed, two acquitted and one convicted by a jury.
But 17 have walked right out of the jail and into the community – including six who pleaded guilty to human-smuggling felonies – because the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency decided it wouldn’t transport out of the country people prosecuted under the controversial coyote law.

Since July 11, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has transported 14 more of the coyote-law defendants in four trips to the Yuma area to rendezvous with U.S. Border Patrol agents willing to take the prisoners and put them through the federal process for removal.

“Why would they refuse to pick up the felons?” Sheriff Joe Arpaio asked.

An ICE spokesman said only federal agents with ICE, the Border Patrol and other U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials are legally empowered to determine who is a citizen and who is in the country legally, which they do through specific interviews and checks.

“An officer must base the determination of status upon either an interview of the subject or through fingerprint comparison with existing records,” ICE Special Agent in Charge Roberto Medina said in a July 6 letter to Arpaio. “Furthermore, only federal officers can place detainers pursuant to the (Immigration and Nationality Act).”

State and county law enforcement can’t make such determinations about “alienage.”

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said “the federal government’s continued unwillingness to perform its basic duty of securing our border makes Arizona’s human-smuggling law all the more important.”
Uh, yeah?

H/T immigration watchdog

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