A new partnership is giving some trained sheriffs deputies in Massachusetts the power to handle federal immigration enforcement duties.
The Bristol County Sheriff and the assistant director of enforcement for ICE signed the partnership, called 287 G, Wednesday morning.
The partnership, which allows the sheriff deputies to interview and have some processing functions, will help ICE save time when it comes to investigating cases involving undocumented immigrants who are accused of crimes, proponents claim.
Previously, ICE agents from Boston would do interviews and processing.
However, the partnership isn't sitting well with everyone.
A group of protesters gathered outside of the meeting and voiced concerns about how this partnership could lead to general immigrant targeting.
Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and ICE official Matt Albence say this applies to people who commit serious crimes.
"We certainly wouldn't want those people in our custody to be released back into the community to carry out problems for our country," Sheriff Hodgson said.
"These individuals are being arrested independently by a state or local agency for a violation of some criminal code - fed, state or local - and only after that point are they booked in the facility, do the officers step in to make the determination, 'Is he an alien, is he removable, does he fall within our enforcement priorities,'" Albance, assistant director of enforcement for ICE, said.
Sheriff Hodgson said he hopes to have eight to 12 of his deputies trained for this partnership in four to six months. ICE will pay for the necessary out-of-state training and added infrastructure, which includes computer software.