CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The Craighead County Sheriff's Department is working to strengthen their relationship with the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regional offices.
"We are trying to make our partnership stronger with Homeland Security ICE when it comes down to dealing with problems we see with illegal immigration at the Craighead County Detention Center," said Marty Boyd, sheriff.
Boyd said this will give them more tools to work with when coming in contact with individuals who they can't document or know how they are in the country.
"We want to have a stronger relationship where an agent will be here with tools and resources and take over cases in identifying people properly," said Boyd.
Currently, when they come in contact with an undocumented individual in the detention center, a process that has to take place can last a long time.
"It is common for ICE to place a hold on that person until they can identify who they are or what all they have been charged with in the past," said Boyd. "The problem with that is that it could take weeks on when we are holding that person on hold until they can help verify who they are."
Boyd said they work with both ICE offices in Memphis and Little Rock where they only communicate through phone or by fax.
"You know we have to call Little Rock and wait on documentation to come through and with that being the closest office to us we are trying to see if we can have an agent travel to us which would help on so many levels."
Boyd said right now, their staff is not equipped with the tools they need to work these type of cases.
"ICE would be able to help with the software they have and of course the language barriers we are faced with," said Boyd. "Of course we have interpreters but they can't be here 24/7. With ICE being more involved and us having a stronger partnership and relationship, instead of weeks and possibly into months, we are looking at days and even hours trying to identify that person through the capabilities that they have."
Boyd said it is a federal partnership that would not cost the county anything and one that he feels will be better for everyone in the end.
"We are not looking to go out on the streets and pick up people and stuff like that," said Boyd. "It is for their benefit too because we have some great people who are here legally in our country and are citizens of the United States and when we deal with an illegal side of that it gives them a bad reputation too so we want to make sure we are here helping everybody but we want to enforce the laws of our country too."