A Maricopa County jail holds the title for most immigration holds.
ICE put more detainers on inmates over the last four years in Maricopa County’s main jail than any other in the country, The Arizona Republic reports, citing a study released last week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The agency issues detainers to ask local authorities to hold someone suspected of being in the country illegally for up to 48 hours. Local law enforcement often initiates the process.
ICE issued 28,682 immigration holds at Maricopa County Jail from fiscal year 2008 to 2012. Those numbers put give the Maricopa County facility an edge over Los Angeles County Jail – Twin Tower (28,621) and Harris County Jail in Houston (28,063).
Los Angeles, however, leads the nation for immigration holds at the county level with 37,000, The Los Angeles Times reports. In addition to the detainers issued at Los Angeles County Jail, ICE issued another 8,379 holds at Los Angeles City Jail, along with smaller numbers of holds at other facilities.
Maricopa County appears to have placed second behind Los Angeles. Another Phoenix-area facility, Maricopa County Lower Buckeye Jail, registered 1,775 immigration holds, but the country’s totals appeared smaller than those of Los Angeles County.
ICE did not provide the researchers with the location for the jails listed, making it difficult to compare counties with precision.
The records were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Less than 23 percent of the nearly one million people tagged with an immigration hold had been convicted of a crime, and only 8.6 percent with a serious offense.
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told The Los Angeles Times the agency changed its policy for issuing detainers in December to reduce the number of holds placed on people who don't fit the agency's deportation priorities.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio prides himself on strictly enforcing immigration law.
The sheriff’s staff, however, no longer carries out immigration screenings. Federal authorities took over that role in Dec. 2011, over allegations of discrimination against Latinos from the Justice Department.
Despite Maricopa County’s leading position, deportations from the state of Arizona have actually dropped in recent years.
Deportations from Arizona hit a peak of 92,592 in 2010, the year the state passed its controversial crackdown on illegal immigration, before plummeting to 40,000 in 2012, The Arizona Daily Star reports.
Meanwhile, deportations have soared under president Barack Obama administration, topping 409,000 last fiscal year.
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