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Immigration and Customs Enforcement renews promise to focus on deporting serious criminals

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has renewed its promise to focus on serious criminals for detention and deportation. "A new policy directs ICE officers and attorneys to use appropriate discretion to make sure victims and witnesses to crimes are not put into deportation proceedings," the Associated Press reports. But that's exactly what happens in many human smuggling cases here.

As explained in the Westword story, "Disappearing Act," human smuggling cases in Colorado are nearly impossible to prosecute because ICE deports the witnesses, namely the undocumented passengers in the vehicles being driven by the alleged smugglers.

"Once they're taken into ICE custody, it's hard for us to have any impact on the process," Trish Mahre, a deputy district attorney in Mesa County, told Westword. "I don't have a process that says 'Don't deport them, because I need them for trial.'"

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Some of the new policies described in the AP story are for a program called Secure Communities, which allows local law enforcement to check the fingerprints of anyone who is arrested against federal immigration databases. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed on to the controversial program before he left office earlier this year. Secure Communities pilot programs are now running in Denver, El Paso and Arapahoe counties, says Eric Brown, spokesman for Governor John Hickenlooper. But, as the Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper wants to make sure those pilots are working as they should.

To many, that means leaving law-abiding undocumented people alone.

More from our Immigration archives: "Immigration: Fear and hope at forum prompted by raid at Morgan County's Wildcat Dairy."

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