PHOENIX — Local officials say Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Border Patrol "declined" to take custody of 17 alleged undocumented immigrants found inside a van during a traffic stop on Interstate 10 Friday.
DPS said at around 6 a.m., troopers stopped a van that was traveling on I-10 near Ray Road. Troopers said they made contact with the driver, a U.S. citizen, and "observed" 17 undocumented immigrants inside the vehicle.
In a tweet Friday, DPS said troopers requested assistance from ICE and Border Patrol to take custody of the group, and the agencies reportedly refused.
DPS added that troopers issued citations for the traffic violations, impounded the van, and released the individuals.
Absent response from the agencies with jurisdiction on immigration violations, the AZDPS trooper issued the appropriate citations for the traffic violations, impounded the vehicle and was forced to release the subjects. (3/3) pic.twitter.com/5STfZA9kqr— Dept. of Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) April 16, 2021
Both CBP and ICE responded to the claims by DPS that they declined to take custody Friday evening.
CBP issued the following statement:
On April 16, 2021, CBP's Tucson Border Patrol Sector received a referral from an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) vehicle stop in Chandler, AZ. Due to the distance from the border and all available Agents actively engaged in multiple ongoing interdiction efforts, Tucson Sector referred DPS to ICE Enforcement Removal Operations who have assets stationed in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
ICE issued the following statement:
On April 16, ICE officers were unable to immediately respond when notified by Arizona local law enforcement. When ICE officers did arrive on scene, occupants of the vehicle had already departed.
Governor Doug Ducey issued a statement Friday about the incident, taking aim at the Biden/Harris administration regarding the ongoing immigration issues impacting the U.S.-Mexico border.
"I’ve met with our Border Patrol and they need help, and they need the support of the administration. It’s time for the White House to act and do its job so the dedicated law enforcement officials on the ground have the resources, support and direction they desperately need," Ducey said.