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Maricopa County may allow immigration officials to enter jails, take custody

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone issued a statement late Friday, saying he was informed he can lawfully allow immigration enforcement officials to take custody of inmates inside Maricopa County jails.

The statement acts as somewhat of an amendment to a policy put in place last week, when Penzone said he would no longer hold inmates past their release date to give immigration enforcement more time to launch deportation proceedings. That move likely put the county at a lesser risk for being sued.

While Penzone reiterated Friday that he would still not hold inmates past their release date, he stated that Maricopa County had reached an “acceptable solution” with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) leadership to transfer detainees:

“This afternoon I was advised it is within our legal authority to permit the transfer of custody of individuals who are deemed in violation of federal immigration law to ICE Agents inside the Maricopa County Jail facilities,” his statement read.

Penzone said ICE will be responsible for getting to jails before inmates are completely released.

Since Penzone enacted the detention policy last week, ICE said it had arrested five of nearly three dozen undocumented immigrants freed from jails.

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