ICE refuses to take illegal immigrants, Sheriff Arpaio not happy

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio isn’t happy with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sheriff Arpaio said in a press release Friday that agents from ICE refused to take into custody two suspected illegal immigrants who were found in the desert this week.

On Thursday, MCSO deputies came across five suspected illegal immigrants while conducting a drug interdiction operation.

Detectives were able to determine through interviews that everyone in the group was a Mexican national, and that they had been in the desert for the past five days.

Three members of the group identified themselves as illegal immigrants and said they had paid approximately $1,000 to be smuggled into the United States. They were booked into the 4th Avenue Jail on felony human smuggling charges.

Detectives weren’t able to gather enough evidence on the other two individuals to charge them with human smuggling.

Detectives tried to turn the suspects over to ICE, but after asking a series of questions, ICE refused to take the suspects.

Sheriff Arpaio said ICE’s policy has always been to take into custody any illegal immigrant believed to have committed a serious crime or who recently crossed the border.

“These suspects are clearly recent border crossers. ICE’s refusal to accept the suspects for possible deportation suggests ICE is ignoring their own policy,” said Arpaio.

The two suspects were eventually turned over to the Border Patrol.

Sheriff Arpaio and ICE haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Last December, the Department of Homeland Security and ICE ended the MCSO’s access to the Secure Communities program.

ICE also refused to respond last December after the MCSO pulled over a truck containing 12 suspected illegal immigrants.

At the time, a spokesman for ICE said the priority of the federal government is illegal immigrants who pose a risk to the public, or who have been deported more than once.