Gary Grado, East Valley Tribune (Phoenix, Arizona), July 24, 2009
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Friday the federal government refused to take three illegal immigrants arrested in a crime sweep Thursday because their arrests didn’t fit new Department of Homeland Security policies.
Arpaio said the department breached a promise that he could operate under an existing agreement that allows him to enforce immigration law.
Homeland Security is requiring all local police agencies with existing 287(g) agreements to sign new ones within the next three months that are in accordance with new policies and department objectives or else lose their authority.
Arpaio said he has to decide whether he wants to maintain the 287(g) authority if the rules become too restrictive.
Local agents with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told deputies who made the arrests to let them go, said Sgt. Brett Palmer.
“I was told ‘no,’ I was not authorized to arrest,” Palmer said.
A Homeland Security spokesman in Washington, D.C., said the opposite.
“The determination to release these individuals lies solely within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” said Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler. “ICE officials gave permission to the MCSO 287(g) officer to question the individuals and had no other engagement.”
Arpaio said if that is the case, then he will start arresting illegal immigrants who have no other criminal charges again.
Over the past few years, ICE would have deported them, Arpaio said.
In issuing the new 287(g) policies July 10, Homeland Security said it was concerned that local police were using minor infractions to get illegal immigrants deported.
To combat that, Homeland Security will require agencies to “pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody.”