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  1. #1
    Senior Member controlledImmigration's Avatar
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    Aug 2007

    illegal immigrants slip through law enforcement cracks

    Some illegal immigrants slip through law enforcement cracks
    By Maggie Crane

    Local law enforcement agencies report seeing more illegal immigrants on Southwest Florida's streets and waterways, but some local officers say they feel like their hands are tied when it comes to taking action against undocumented immigrants.

    Big cases, like human smuggling, are handed over to federal agents. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, investigates individual cases that often come from good police work done locally. Some of those officers say they discover more and more people here illegally, but can't do much about it.

    WINK News rode along -- in the water and on the streets -- to see what they're up against.

    The Cape Coral Marine Unit patrols 400 miles of waterway in the cape alone. Bob Slage searches for suspicious boaters. He says smuggling -- humans and goods -- is a top concern. When local officers do come across illegal immigrants in Southwest Florida's waterways, sometimes they let them go.

    "A traffic infraction is not worthy of wasting ICE's time. If it's not really bad, then personally, I wouldn't call," Cpl. Slage says.

    ICE takes on what Slage calls "big cases."

    "Just like most agencies anymore, there just aren't enough officers to go around, so we try not to involve them unless it's a case that needs immediate attention, like smuggling," Slage says.

    For back up, Cape Coral turns to other officers on the water. U.S. Border Protection, The U.S. Coast Guard and other local agencies pitch in to build bigger cases for ICE.

    "If I see that boat full of bad guys, and I see a pattern of it over time, the intel we all build goes to ICE, who can build a case and actually catch them doing something," Slage says.

    It's a similar story on the streets.

    "Here lately, there's been a lot more activity here and around the state with seeing illegal immigrants here, but unless they do something really bad, it's hard to really catch them," Leny Salecki, Cape Coral police officer, says. "Personally, it's irritating."

    Officers say they have a job to do but sometimes have difficulty doing it.

    "We have an obligation to the community, but at the same time, we have an immigration problem that's hard to get rid of," Salecki says.

    "Just like anything else, you have to pick your battles," Slage says.

    All agencies that patrol Southwest Florida's waterways meet once a month. They talk about everything they've seen on the water and alert one another to potential problems. Those cases could then be sent to ICE for further investigation.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    May 2007
    "A traffic infraction is not worthy of wasting ICE's time. If it's not really bad, then personally, I wouldn't call," Cpl. Slage says
    So, wait until it's 'really bad' like vehicular homicide. How do they handle minor infractions? Take away their fake driver's license? It's hard to get a handle on this process. I wish the reporter had followed one of the cases to conclusion. THAT would be interesting.

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