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LARGO, Fla. (AP) — The country's immigration enforcement agency on Monday announced a new partnership in Florida to allow some sheriff's deputies to serve warrants on behalf of the federal government.
Pinellas County in the Tampa Bay area is the first jurisdiction to participate, but more have expressed interest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.
The plan is intended for jurisdictions restricted by local policies so they can keep certain immigrants requested by authorities in custody for a longer time, the agency said.
The Florida Legislature last week passed a contentious bill that mandates local officials to honor ICE detainers for immigrants who are arrested or convicted of a crime while in the country illegally. Officials who defy could be suspended by the governor or sued by the state attorney general to force compliance.
As part of the agreement, ICE will train deputies for one day to enable them to arrest people on immigration charges while they are in jail and already facing other charges.
"People in our country illegally who commit crimes must not be released back into our communities where they harm others," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in the statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union quickly condemned the plan, saying local agencies would risk violating search and seizure laws. The warrants are not reviewed by a judge.
"This program is just latest scheme by ICE to enlist local police in its abusive deportation agenda," said Lorella Praeli, deputy political director at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last year, several Florida law enforcement agencies agreed to increase cooperation with the agency.
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