Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are working with 11 Florida sheriffs in a pilot project that could allow police agencies to cooperate with ICE — even in so-called sanctuary cities that bar existing levels of collaboration with ICE.
“This is about criminal illegals who are in the jail. So if you are here illegally, and you obey the laws of the state, none of this applies to you. But if you are here in the county illegally, and you commit a crime, and you end up in a county jail or state prison, then we will, as we should, help ICE remove you from the United States,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri said, according to Spectrum Bay News 9.
ICE said its Warrant Service Office program would train local police and corrections officers to detain individuals already in local jails for up to 48 hours, The Washington Times reported.
Unlike other ICE programs, local police would not need to interview those being held about their citizenship and immigration status.
“The genesis of the WSO program was: How can we offer a cooperative partnership with jurisdictions that reside in states that have local or state policies that limit cooperation with ICE?” said Matthew Bourke, an ICE spokesman, according to a report by The Washington Post.
By requiring one day of training, the new program is less of a burden than ICE’s existing 287(g) program that requires four weeks of training.
Although it is being rolled out in Florida, ICE said it wants to implement the program in any area that wants to participate.
Pinellas County will send 40 deputies for training.
“It is easy to implement, and it is legally unchallengeable,” Gualtieri said.
“While immigration is the responsibility of the federal government, public safety is the responsibility of all law enforcement officers,” Gualtieri said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The American Civil Liberties Union attacked the project.
“This program is just the latest scheme by ICE to enlist local police in its abusive deportation agenda,” said Lorella Praeli, Deputy National Political Director at the ACLU.
“ICE is asking local law enforcement to risk violating the Fourth Amendment. We urge local law enforcement to resist this dangerous proposal and stand by their commitment to the communities they serve,” Praeli said.
Gualtieri dared the program’s critics to sue.
“If you’ve got it, bring it. If you ain’t got it, you ain’t bringing it,” he said.
Florida’s legislature has passed an anti-sanctuary city bill, which is awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Advocates of sanctuary cities say crime reporting could be harmed by cooperating with ICE. Gualtieri, however, does not buy that argument.
“People who are simply here illegally are at the core of the immigration dilemma across this country. But there is no dilemma with people who are here illegally and committing crime. They are criminal illegals who must be removed from this country,” he said.
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