CEDAR CITY - Rep. Jim Matheson has sent a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security asking that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff that handles southwestern Utah be increased.
"The resources established by ICE at the national level to facilitate the federal-local partnership appear to suffer from significant problems at the local level," Matheson writes in the letter to Secretary Michael Chertoff, dated Aug. 8.
ICE officials say they are aware of the problems and are working to alleviate some of the pressures by next year. The letter is in response to complaints by police in the region, including St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton and Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith.
Matheson claims that the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, which police officers use to determine a person's immigration status, is inadequate. It is not unusual, Matheson writes, for officers to wait up to four hours for an answer to an inquiry. The letter also claims if a person is found in violation of immigration law, they are often released because the Office of Detention and Release is so understaffed. The Office of Investigations is also short-handed, the letter states. ~Snip~
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