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After MCSO policy change, ICE picking up more inmates with immigration holds

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Since Saturday, all but one of the nearly 50 inmates with immigration holds released by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have been taken into custody by federal immigration agents.

This comes after Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone announced on Friday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would be allowed inside county jails. He also made clear that he would not hold people past their release time.

MCSO spokesperson Mark Casey said in an email to KTAR News that from Saturday through Tuesday, a total of 47 inmates with immigration holds were released after serving their sentence. Of those, 46 were taken into custody by ICE.

The only inmate who was not picked up by ICE was in custody for less than 24 hours. He was serving time for a DUI. Casey said this happened during the “changeover in our process,” so ICE was not notified of the inmate’s pending release.

On Feb. 17, Penzone announced his office would no longer keep inmates on “courtesy holds” to give ICE agents more time to launch deportation proceedings. During the week after that announcement was made, from Feb. 18 to Feb. 24, MCSO released 70 inmates with immigration holds after they served their sentence. Of those, only five were taken into custody by ICE.

Juan Pena Medina is one of the inmates who was not picked up by ICE and was released to the streets on Feb. 22. He was arrested again on Tuesday by Phoenix police after ICE agents were trying to detain him and called for help. He was arrested on suspicion of misconduct involving weapons and turned over to ICE.

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