Charleston detention screening finds illegal immigrants

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - More than 500 illegal immigrants have been flagged for deportation in Charleston County after detention officers began screening inmates as part of a federal program.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Sunday that specially trained detention officers can use Department of Homeland Security computers to screen foreign-born offenders charged with state crimes.

Jail administrator Chief Deputy Mitch Lucas says the program screens the immigration status only of those who have been charged with crimes. Those flagged can argue their cases before a federal immigration judge.

Latino Association of Charleston president Diana Salazar says police are targeting Hispanics in safety checkpoints to arrest them for petty offenses that then get them deported.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez says her agency does not tolerate racial profiling.

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