For the second time, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office put out a press release to complain that Immigration and Customs Enforcement "refused" to take custody of a suspected illegal immigrant.
The story from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is that the Human Smuggling Unit pulled over a car, and the driver didn't have a license.
The driver was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail for that, while deputies phoned up ICE in an attempt to turn over the passenger, as the press release says both people in the car admitted to being in the country illegally.
As is usually the case, ICE asked a series of questions to see if the person in question falls under the agency's enforcement priorities. That person did not, sparking another Arpaio press release on the matter.
To continue the non-controversy, the suspected illegal immigrant was turned over to Border Patrol agents in Casa Grande.
"I continue to enforce the laws but keep running into road blocks," Arpaio says. "My office will continue its hard work in efforts to serve the residents of Maricopa County."
We sent an e-mail to MCSO asking if there was an indication that this suspected immigrant would fall under ICE's enforcement priorities, so we'll update this post if we get a response.
UPDATE: And here's the response, from MCSO Sergeant Brandon Jones: "We contact ICE as a standard protocol during these situations."
The last time Arpaio called out ICE for "refusing" to take a suspected illegal immigrant, ICE officials were under the impression that Arpaio didn't quite have his story straight.
ICE usually picks up suspected illegal immigrants from local law enforcement is when the suspect is accused of committing a crime, or when they have recently crossed the border, but Arpaio claimed ICE "refused" to take a recent border-crosser.
"I expected that it would happen eventually, so I had a back up plan in place which was to take these illegal immigrants not accepted by ICE to the Border Patrol," Arpaio said at the time.
According to MCSO's press release, "So as directed by the Sheriff, last night deputies took the two suspects to the Border Patrol."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Support Our Journalism
ICE's side of the story was a bit different.
"When a check of DHS databases did not reveal criminal histories or prior immigration encounters, ICE agents referred the sheriff's office to the Ajo Station of the U.S. Border Patrol," an ICE spokeswoman said. "Border Patrol is the primary DHS agency responding to recent border crossers encountered in the Gila Bend desert area."
Agents from the Ajo station made the trip up to Gila Bend to pick up those suspected illegal immigrants in that case.