PHOENIX - Law enforcement personnel representing four Arizona agencies will become the latest state and local officers in Arizona authorized to enforce federal immigration law, following their graduation tomorrow from a rigorous training program administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The graduation ceremony at the Radisson Hotel, Phoenix City Center, will mark the officers' successful completion of four weeks of training focusing on immigration law, civil rights, and intercultural relations.
Training began after the Yavapai, Pima and Pinal county sheriffs' offices completed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ICE that will afford the local deputies immigration enforcement authority under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Troopers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which signed an MOA with ICE last year, also took part in the current training.
The three new partners represent a significant expansion of ICE's efforts to work with Arizona law enforcement agencies to combat illegal immigration and related crime. Of the more than 30 officers participating in tomorrow's graduation, most are being cross-designated with immigration enforcement authority to aid their participation in multi-agency task forces targeting the violence associated with human smuggling. The remaining trainees are jail enforcement officers, who will use their authority to identify foreign-born criminals in Arizona prisons and jails.
"I appreciate the continued commitment from these Arizona law enforcement agencies to work together in our shared homeland security mission," said former Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, who now serves as executive director for ICE's Office of State and Local Coordination. "I am particularly pleased that our newest partners, representing Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties, will help us significantly expand the fight against human and drug smuggling to more areas in Arizona."
"This is another example of the continuation of a cooperative effort between ICE and DPS to address the crimes associated with illegal immigration by providing state and local officers with the tools to be more effective in their investigations," said Roger Vanderpool, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
"ICE has been very responsive to our requests for assistance regarding the detention of criminal aliens," said Steve Waugh, Yavapai County sheriff. "The 287(g) program strengthens the relationship between our agencies and streamlines the process by which our deputies can quickly identify criminal aliens and initiate removal proceedings when appropriate. 287(g) is a win-win program for the residents of Yavapai County, and we are proud to be first law enforcement agency in the county to participate."
"Partnering with ICE will help to prevent Pinal County from being used a human smuggling corridor," said Chris Vasquez, Pinal County sheriff. "It will also aid in the effort to arrest and deport criminal aliens back to their country of origin."
Under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of Homeland Security is authorized to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies allowing designated officers to perform immigration enforcement functions, provided the officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of ICE officers.
Currently, 47 enforcement agencies nationwide have signed MOAs with ICE and more than 700 officers have been trained and certified to enforce immigration law. Those officers are credited with identifying more than 48,000 aliens with possible immigration violations since the beginning of 2006. The 287(g) program is only one component of the ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) initiative, which offers an umbrella of services to assist local law enforcement agencies. ICE ACCESS provides local law enforcement an opportunity to team with ICE to combat specific challenges in their communities.