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Officials say ICE agents speed up inmate processing

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma County Officials are speaking out about two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents working out of the Oklahoma County Jail.

"We understand the political lightning rod that this has caused nationally, but everything we have done, we have been doing," said Mark Myers of the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office is responding to demands at Monday's jail trustee meeting to remove ICE agents from their facility.

The sheriff's office says the ICE agents have shared a desk in the booking area of the jail since 2015.

They say state and federal law required the jail to notify federal officials if an incoming inmate doesn't have proper documentation.

They say, by having ICE agents on site, helps speed up the booking process.

"We have to use ICE to make sure the people who are in our facility are who they say they are. It just really helped to speed up the process of getting people in and out of here," said Myers.

Myers says ICE agents are able to put a hold on an inmate's record and then later pick them up upon release, but he says that doesn't always happen.

"We're concerned anytime ICE is putting itself in spaces especially ones that should be controlled by county government," said Nicole McAfee with the ACLU of Oklahoma.

The ACLU had members at yesterday's meeting. McAfee says the ACLU would like to see ICE agents out of the jail.

"We are hearing more and more stories around the country and around Oklahoma about people being picked up for things like speeding or random traffic stops and being asked to have their papers present.  So I think there is more concern that people are being brought to the jail for the purpose of ICE getting a hold of them just because they are undocumented," said McAfee.

Jail trustee members say the agents are there to comply with state and federal laws.

"We are not making immigration raids, we are just picking up people for other offenses and finding out they are undocumented and there are laws that speak to what we have to do about that," said Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan.

Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office officials say they are in no way financially involved with the ICE agents and that there are no federal inmates in their facility.

The sheriff's office also says- unlike Tulsa, Okmulgee and Canadian County- they don't have a 287(g) contract that allows sheriff's deputies to be trained as ICE agents.

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