/ Modified jun 26, 2012 7:47 a.m.

U.S. Stops Deputizing AZ Officers for Immigration

Training agreements end as result of Supreme Court's SB 1070 ruling

By Hernán Rozemberg, Fronteras Desk

The Department of Homeland Security is suspending the program it uses to deputize local, county and state law enforcement officers in Arizona, in direct reaction to Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The court struck down three provisions of Arizona's SB 1070, but left intact the right for Arizona law enforcement officers to make immigration-related arrests.

Under Homeland Security’s 287(g) program -- named for a section of federal immigration law — local, county and state officers are deputized and trained so they may serve as immigration enforcement agents.

That program has been suspended in Arizona, so no future officers in the state will be given the training to make arrest immigrants solely on their immigration status.

That training is handled by DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE.

Homeland Security would not comment on the record. An official on background indicated that ICE agents in Arizona have been instructed not to respond for calls for assistance from local enforcement unless the person in question is a convicted criminal, was just caught crossing the border illegally or is a repeat illegal border crosser.

Not only will no more officers be trained in Arizona, but already existing agreements with state law enforcement agencies were also nixed, according to the Homeland Security official.

The affected Arizona agencies that no longer have federal authority to enforce federal immigration laws include the Department of Public Safety, police departments in Phoenix, Mesa and Florence, and sheriff’s departments in Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties.

In a separately released statement, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s mixed decision will make her department’s work “more challenging.”

Apparently alluding to the 287(g) suspension, Napolitano said that DHS “will implement operational enhancements to its programs in Arizona to ensure that the agency can remain focused on its priorities.”

Fronteras Desk is a collaborative project of public broadcasting entities in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, including Arizona Public Media.

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