Part one: Immigration strategy shifts
Rocky Mountain News
September 2, 2003
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Immigration agents have virtually stopped punishing employers of illegal workers. Instead, they are arresting immigrants coming out of jails, packed into smugglers' vans or working at potential terrorist targets.
Immigration officials won't say how many agents left for workplace investigations, citing security. But in the three-state Denver region - Colorado, Wyoming and Utah - there were only five even before 9-11.
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In March, the INS was split in two. Agents who processed legal immigrants' paperwork went to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Enforcement agents ended up in the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly called ICE. Both were moved to the new Department of Homeland Security.
Locally, ICE agents said arrests of people in the country illegally have soared in the past four years, from 920 to 12,183, in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming alone. They attribute the increase, in part, to the addition of Quick Response Teams in five cities to pick up smuggled foreigners caught on the highways.