Colo. sees 11 percent jump in ICE referrals
DENVER ” The number of suspected illegal immigrants referred to federal authorities by state law enforcement agencies jumped 11 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to a review by The Denver Post of figures submitted to the state so far.
A state requirement gives law enforcement agencies until March 1 to report how many names they referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Not all law enforcement agencies have met the reporting deadline. An evaluation by the Post found that 21,816 names had been submitted in 2008, up from 19,633 by the same agencies in 2007.
Some authorities credited the rise to increased police awareness of the state requirement to report referrals. Others credited publicity over tragedies involving illegal immigrants, such as a crash in which an SUV driven by an illegal immigrant broadsided a truck into an ice cream shop, killing three people.
“That was probably a turning point,” Arapahoe County sheriff’s Bureau Chief Phil Spence said. “About six weeks later (after the publicity), we started noticing a difference.”
ICE agents began scrutinizing more jail inmates serving time for lesser offenses and putting detainers on them, he said.
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Not every law-enforcement agency saw an increase in referrals. Some larger jurisdictions, including Denver, Jefferson and Larimer counties, experienced drops.
Larimer County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat McCosh said it may just be an anomaly. Officials in Denver and Jefferson counties said said they have done nothing differently in enforcing the law.
Aurora had 3,143 referrals. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said about two-thirds or more came from the city’s jail, which forwards the name of anyone arrested who was not born in the U.S. ICE then sorts out who is in the U.S. legally.
The other names came from officers issuing summonses for misdemeanor offenses, he said.
Deportations also are up.
ICE statistics show that the number of deportations initiated from the referrals in Colorado rose by almost a third to 6,019 in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2008, from the previous year.
The Post found differences in how agencies are reporting referrals. Some counties only reported the number of times ICE placed a detainer on an inmate, the first step toward deportation. Others told the state about each name they reported to ICE, regardless of whether the federal agency later took action.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com