August 4, 2009

Utah prison officials may do double-duty as immigration enforcers

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Utah prison officials may be pressed into service to enforce new laws that cut off undocumented immigrants from state services. In a story for the Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Gehrke writes that the state lacks enough staff to enforce immigration reform laws and is considering “cross–deputizing” the probation and parole agents to double as immigration enforcers.

Jails around the state already use a prisoner’s citizenship status to determine whether that person has access to education, employment or counseling services while behind bars.

But it can take up to a year for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to determine a prisoner’s status and arrange for post-release deportation. Cross-deputizing deputies would allow such determinations to happen more quickly, but opponents of the plan argue prison staff are already swamped with their own work loads.

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