- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will no longer carry out certain immigration law duties at the county jail on behalf of the federal government, saying it costs too much and takes up too much time.

Under the program, some deputies were allowed to perform functions and access information at the El Paso County jail normally reserved for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. They had access to federal immigration databases, could interrogate inmates and place holds on people suspected of entering the country illegally, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Tom DeLuca said.

The authority for agencies to act on behalf of ICE officials was allowed under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

“What we had found was that it was taking a lot of our staff time to actually investigate this,” DeLuca said. The sheriff’s office had 11 deputies, two sergeants and one lieutenant trained to enforce the program before it ended Thursday, he said.

“We have decided as an office that it’s best served by the federal government to determine that status,” DeLuca said.

The nationwide program has been criticized for draining local resources, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported (https://tinyurl.com/prmzmm6).

As of September, the sheriff’s office was one of the few agencies in Colorado participating in the program.

The partnership with ICE will not stop with the change, DeLuca said. Federal authorities will be notified of inmates suspected of violating immigration laws, and deputies will have access to the federal immigration database at the jail, DeLuca said.

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Information from: The Gazette, https://www.gazette.com

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