Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Feds want to be NMI’s partners

Feds want to be NMI’s partners

Thursday, 03 December 2009 00:00 By Andrew O. De Guzman - Reporter

THE head of the Office of Investigation, one of the operational divisions of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says they want to have a partnership with the CNMI.

“We are here on a mission to partner and communicate with the community,” said Wayne K. Wills, Office of Investigation special agent in charge based on Honolulu, Hawaii.
He is hoping that Gov. Benigno R. Fitial will not make a sweeping generalization regarding the actions of federal agencies.

Last year, the governor, who has sued the U.S. over the federalization law, pulled out local police and customs officers from to the Joint CNMI-U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, following the intensive body searches conducted by the DEA on passengers of an inaugural Shanghai Airlines flight.

Fitial later claimed that the DEA endangered his life when it did not inform him about the “ice” dealings of his then-driver-bodyguard.

Wills said they are extending the hand of partnership with the local government.
At least two persons were handed over by the CNMI government to ICE on Saturday morning, according to Michael Samaniego, the agency’s assistant field office director of detention and removal operations.

Wills, during Tuesday’s press conference, also said the public should not to be “surprised” when ICE agents are seen on the islands, together with CNMI law enforcement agencies or the U.S. Coast Guard.

Wills underscored the critical part the community will play, stressing that their operational successes will come from “information from the community.”
Wills said arrested individuals who are found to be in violation of U.S. immigration law will be evaluated through a tier-approach in determining their threat to the nation or to the community.

Samaniego, for his part, is hoping for a “happy conclusion” regarding a detention facility, since talks with the local Department of Correction were still “work in progress.”

According to its Web site, ICE is the largest investigative agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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