GREELEY, Colo. (AP) -- A controversial proposal to open a federal immigration office in Greeley got a boost this week when homeland security officials concluded an office is needed.
It wasn't clear Friday when a decision might be made, however.
A review by the federal Department of Homeland Security found "Greeley is a larger city with gang activity and several work site locations that need additional focus."
The finding, first reported on the Greeley Tribune's Web site Friday, was welcomed by prosecutors and police officers but condemned by a Hispanic activist.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck said an immigration office would help police "by deporting more gang members and help with issues of identity theft."
In an e-mail to the Tribune, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said an office "will be beneficial to the Greeley area due to the volume of foreign-born (inmates) at the jail and to help fight crimes like identity theft."
Robert Cordova of El Voto Latino in Greeley said he was "very disappointed" by the finding.
"I am sure that the Latino community will want all the facts that would warrant an (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) office to be revealed, and I am sure we will debate this latest move," he said.
Some Greeley residents have been fighting the proposal for months, saying it would fuel racism.
Immigration has long been controversial topic in Greeley. In December, ICE raided Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Greeley and in five other states, arresting 1,282 workers. Of those, 246 were charged with identity theft and the rest with immigration charges.
Sen. Wayne Allard, who persuaded Congress last year to require that ICE review Greeley's needs, said the report confirms what local law-enforcement officials have told him.
"Having an ICE office in Greeley will provide a vital law-enforcement presence in northern Colorado," he said in a written release.
ICE currently has offices in Alamosa, Brush, Craig, Denver, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction and Pueblo. The ICE review concluded that the Brush office could be relocated to Greeley, the Tribune reported.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok refused to say how many people ICE has in the state, citing "operational security reasons."
He also declined to say whether ICE had decided whether it would open a Greeley office.
"We're reviewing the possibility of opening a dedicated office in Greeley," he told The Associated Press Friday.