SB1070 fallout: Feds may not pick up suspected illegal immigrants from local law enforcement
DHS says its priority will be dangerous criminals who are also illegal immigrants. It may not pick up other immigration violators Video by kgun9.comvideo
DHS offered a recording of a background briefing for use on air but the official speaking could only be identified as "a senior government official."
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada says if Border Patrol or ICE will not pick up someone he's holding for a simple immigration violation, he'll have to let that person go
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says the loss of the 287-G program is no big deal. His deputies never used 287-G arrest authority. They simply called Border Patrol.
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Will Federal officials pick up illegal immigrants from local authorities or won't they?
That question hit local law enforcement right after the US Supreme Court affirmed the part of Senate Bill 1070 that requires local law enforcement to check immigration status if they encounter someone they suspect is here illegally.
Federal officials say they'll only worry about people they classify as dangerous. So what does this mean locally?
After the Supreme Court ruled on 1070, the big attention getter was the announcement Homeland Security was suspending special agreements called 287-G.
They basically deputized local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law.
But suspending 287-G may be more symbolic than anything else. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, and Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada say they didn't use the program anyway. They just called the Border Patrol.
For them the real issue is now Homeland Security says if a local agency calls it will be more selective about when agents will come pick someone up.
When KGUN9 News called Homeland Security, the DHS media office simply referred up to a recorded audio briefing with someone we can only describe as an unnamed senior administration official.
Explaining their decision, he said: "We will not allow a state to set our enforcement priority."
That means even if SB1070 leads local law enforcement to find out someone's here illegally DHS will not always send agents to pick up that suspect.
The unnamed official says, "What we want to ensure is ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) does not take action unless that individual also meets our existing priorities. These priorities are focused on individuals who are in the country unlawfully and are committing criminal acts outside of just immigration related crime. They also focus on individuals who are attempting to enter the United States through our Southwest border or may have recently crossed our border as well as people who may have repeatedly violated our immigration laws."
Monday, KGUN9's Tammy Vo asked Sheriff Estrada what happens if deputies are holding an illegal immigrant and the agents never show.
Sheriff Estrada said, "You have to let them go. Because there's no law that says you can arrest them."
There were some fears DHS would cut off the information local law enforcement would need to confirm whether someone's in the US illegally. DHS says officers will still be able to call into a phone center to check someone's records.