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Troopers’ New Immigration Unit Picks Up Feds’ Slack

August 20, 2007

The Colorado State Patrol is now officially in the business of helping to enforce federal immigration law. The troopers' new immigration unit recently completed training with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and is now in the field.

Master Trooper Ron Watkins says the new unit keeps troopers from having to "babysit" people while waiting for ICE to show up.

"Under the former system, if I was working a graveyard shift and, at two o'clock in the morning I came across a carload of illegals or undocumented people, I would notify immigration and I could probably get somebody out there at ten o'clock in the morning. You just really can't tie up a trooper that long."

Watkins says the new unit keeps more troopers on the road by handling many of its own immigration-related issues.

"Now, in that same situation, we'll call one of our own people who has been trained by ICE and they will take those folks off the hands of the trooper. They'll be processed, detained or held. It's the same thing that the ICE agents would normally do."

Watkins says it is too soon to tell how much of an impact the new unit is having. Last year, Colorado passed a new law increasing the role that local police play in immigration enforcement.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO