Making sure criminal immigrants are not released back to the community has been a top priority for President Donald Trump, and in Arizona, the Department of Corrections takes part in a program that transfers undocumented prisoners who have served their time, directly into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Arizona is one of only two states that teams up with ICE, via the 287-G program. About 4,500 inmates, or 10% of the inmate population in Arizona's prisons, are in the country illegally. In Arizona,
At the Florence prison, a number of convicted felons who served their time were released from prison, straight to ICE custody.
"We've been working with ICE since 1985, and what we're trying to do is make sure the process is very efficient," said Ruben Montano with the Arizona Department of Corrections.
"We take precautions by doing pat downs, searching individuals, asking them medical questions, and ultimately they're here for removal proceedings to be deported," said Henry Lucero, a Field Office Director with ICE.
At the facility, the detainees are fingerprinted and background checked. They are given food, and then taken to a detention pod, as their immigration statuses are determined.
"It is really up to an immigration judge whether they will be deported or not," said Lucero. "Some of them have already gone through those proceedings while they were in the state system."
Both the state's Department of Correction and ICE said under the program, they have a fluid system that works.
"Basically, any felon that's going to state prison, we ensure they will not be released into the streets," said Lucero.