- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2009

Homeland Security officials have agreements with nearly 70 local law enforcement agencies to oversee charges against illegal immigrants for violent or criminal acts that trigger deportation under new federal rules.

That includes the contentious Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., who will continue to work with federal authorities when illegal immigrants are booked into his jail, but his agency will not be a part of the federal task force that makes some of the actual arrests.

As the deadline passed Friday for agencies to participate in the so-called 287(g) program, 55 agreements had been signed plus more than a dozen more are awaiting approval or still in negotiations, including participation by 11 new departments.

At least six departments have withdrawn from the program citing various reasons including budgetary constraints, said John Morton, assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

No agencies in the District or Maryland are participating. In Virginia, the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, police department and Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center have renewed their agreements. So have the Manassas Police Department, Manassas Park Police Department, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office and Shenanodah County Sheriff’s Office.

The program expedites the deportation of criminal aliens by identifying those already in jail to be deported after time served, and by training and enlisting local police officers to arrest those who pose a threat to local communities.

“These new partnerships are an essential tool for law enforcement to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens from local communities,” Mr. Morton said.

The new agreements are intended to curb reported abuses in the program wherein illegal immigrants were arrested for minor offenses, and amidst allegations of profiling.

Sheriff Arpaio will continue to participate in the jail program, where officers will identify aliens among his 10,000 prisoners who are eligible for removal.

Although his agency is no longer an official part of the task force, Sheriff Arpaio says he will continue to conduct raids to enforce immigration laws.

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