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DAVIS COUNTY -- Deputies in Davis County will not be cross-trained to help enforce immigration laws. Last month the federal government rejected the county's bid to participate in an agreement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, last year Davis County Sheriff Bud Cox applied to have 10 deputies trained to process undocumented arrestees at the Davis County Jail. ICE inspectors visited Davis County and inspected the facilities in October 2008. Then last month, Davis County received a rejection letter.
Currently, deputies notify ICE when a person is arrested and can't prove their legal status. The sheriff says ICE is usually good about picking them up quickly, but sometimes the suspects get released before agents arrive.
"It was surprising and disappointing that they would just say no," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told KSL Newsradio.
He says this puts Davis County between a rock and a hard place - constituents and politicians who want action taken against illegal immigrant criminals, and the federal government.
"They won't come and pick them up within the 48 hours. They won't build a facility here to hold them, and now to be able to hold them beyond 48 hours, we need to be cross-deputized - and they're saying ‘no,'" Shurtleff said.
Shurtleff acknowledges this could have a chilling effect on other law enforcement agencies.
"They have a scapegoat a little bit now," Shurtleff said. "If people are bringing pressure on the sheriff, or the county commissioner, or somebody to get their deputies cross-trained, they may just say, ‘well look, the feds say ‘no' -- so why bother."
The denial is drawing fire from local politicians, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, told the Tribune the ICE rejection "handcuffs the county's hands."
Hatch acknowledges the ICE program is difficult to get into because applicants nationwide compete for limited training dollars. He still would like Davis County to be approved to participate.
Weber and Washington counties were approved for the ICE agreement.