PHOENIX — Federal officials now say they have arrested five of the nearly three dozen undocumented immigrants who were freed from Phoenix jails after the Maricopa County sheriff set shorter detention times.
Sheriff Paul Penzone announced new rules pertaining to custody holds of immigrant detainees last week, shortening the length of stays until Immigration Customs and Enforcement could pick them up.
Penzone’s action has forced ICE to scramble to deal with the change from having up to two days to make pickups.
The agency within the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement:
…”As a result, the local Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) office realigned fugitive enforcement resources to prioritize, locate, and arrest those released as a result of the Sheriff’s recently implemented directives.”
The policy change was made as President Donald Trump has vowed to toughen immigration enforcement across the United States, including erecting a wall across the 2,000-mile southern border and making it easier to deport those who are in the country illegally.
Under Penzone’s new policy, the sheriff’s office gives federal agents five to eight hours of notice before immigrants charged with state crimes have been ordered released from jail by a court. The immigrants are set free if federal agents don’t pick them up.
“I have an obligation to act on it. … This is not something I wanted to do, it is something that I was required to do,” Penzone told KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the new rules would simplify the process between the two arms of law enforcement.
ICE also said in its statement that it “will continue to seek to collaborate with all law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Arizona, including the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office…”
Montgomery said the five to six hours it takes to release an inmate should allow for plenty of communication time between the agencies.
“We certainly, as local law enforcement, do not want to impede legitimate law enforcement by the federal government,” he said, adding that he is working on a new policy to simplify the communication process.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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