Budget tight local police departments cooperate with U.S. federal government for funds (2)

09:48, July 27, 2010      

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said the fingerprints of those arrested will be electronically sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for comparison with more than 100 million fingerprint records. Those with immigration records will be flagged for review by ICE agents.

By doing so, the federal government would reimburse the county about 1.1 million dollars for housing inmates on immigration holds for a fiscal year.

ICE officers must pick up an inmate detained on an immigration hold within 72 hours of an arrest, and the county is only reimbursed for immigration holds if the inmate stays more than four days and is convicted of a crime.

In Minnesota, Hennepin County and Ramsey County allowed immigration agents to visit county jails daily, looking through booking sheets for people who might be in the country illegally. They can see which inmates self-report a country of origin other than the United States. They can meet with inmates to ask follow- up questions, and place holds on them. Inmates can be transferred to federal custody once local law enforcement finishes processing them.

By doing so, the Hennepin County Jail receives about 100,000 dollars a year from the federal government to cover the administrative costs of the program.

According to a report released by ICE, since its start in late 2008, the program has identified more than 16,000 immigrants in 16 states charged with felonies, such as murder, rape and kidnapping. Of those, 3,400 were deported.

Ten California counties now participate in the program: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego, Imperial, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Solano, San Joaquin and Stanislaus. ICE officials expect the program to be used nationwide by 2013.

According to ICE, counties with higher populations of undocumented immigrant criminals were the first to participate in the program.

However, immigration rights groups criticized local law enforcement agencies for cooperating with the federal government for funds.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, called such practice " hypocritical."

"It's a two-faced approach to justice. On the one hand, these men and women put up a big face about immigrants not coming into our country. And on the other, their pockets are filling up with money," Cabrera was quoted by saying by the local media.

Source: Xinhua
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