Massachusetts police officials are criticizing revolving-door treatment of illegal immigrants they are forced to release when overwhelmed federal authorities fail to take action, reports the Boston Herald. Even in cases when cops verify a person is illegal, police chiefs say they often can do nothing because federal immigration agents with the power to detain them are seldom available to respond. “It's out of control,” Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith said. “A lot of them (illegal immigrants) are running around gainfully employed and it's tough to get a handle on it. We have to operate within the rules.”
The nation's rules on immigration enforcement discourage local police from becoming involved because authority is almost exclusively vested in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency empowered to detain illegals and initiate deportation proceedings. In the past few years, high demand on the agency has forced it to focus most of its resources on smuggling rings, employers who hire illegals on a massive scale, and other felony cases. In fact, the agency's focus on the worst criminal elements has become so pronounced that rare efforts to enforce immigration laws in non-felony cases can provoke a public outcry.