Federal officials have failed to detain thousands of suspected illegal immigrants arrested in criminal cases despite referrals from Colorado’s local law-enforcement agencies, reports the Denver Post. The lack of response by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents has produced confusion among municipal officials already resentful of being designated as surrogate federal agents in the policy debate over illegal immigrants. A suspected illegal immigrant who was once in Denver police custody stands accused of dragging a woman to death behind his vehicle. There are conflicting reports on to whether Denver police notified immigration officials after he was arrested in April.
Colorado law-enforcement agencies sent 9,429 inquiries about suspected illegal immigrants to ICE in the 2005 accounting year. ICE requested detainment for 330 of those suspects. This year, ICE has received 13,063 inquiries from Colorado authorities, placing holds on 284. “ICE is underfunded and understaffed, and frankly, depending on which ICE officer you get on which day, you may get a detainer on that individual (criminal suspect) and you may not. So there’s no consistency there,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor. An ICE spokesman said the agency simply cannot respond to every law-enforcement referral of illegal immigrants.