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ALBUQUERQUE — A new prisoner-processing facility will check the immigration status of every person arrested in New Mexico’s largest city, but Albuquerque’s mayor on Thursday denied any effort to shadow Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigrants.
“This has nothing to do with immigration law. This has to do with keeping the streets of Albuquerque safe,” Mayor Richard Berry said after the facility was unveiled.
The biggest difference between the current
booking facility and the new 5,000-square-foot site is that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents have a station inside, where they can check any prisoner’s immigration status.
ICE agents work at jails elsewhere, but Police Chief Ray Schultz said the Albuquerque facility is believed to be the first to have a station inside the booking area where those agents can check fingerprints or photos to examine a prisoner’s immigration status.
Bill Jepsen, assistant director of ICE’s office for New Mexico and West Texas, said the facility will make work easier for agents because they’ll maintain a 24-hour presence.
He said currently, up to 40 illegal immigrants are detained each week at the Bernalillo County jail, but others are sometimes released before their immigration status can be checked.
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