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Burke to head up immigration subcommittee

U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke will chair a subcommittee on border and immigration law enforcement that will advise U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Burke, who was recently confirmed as the U.S. attorney for Arizona, on Oct. 26 was named as the chairman of the Border and Immigration Law Enforcement Subcommittee. The subcommittee is part of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a body of about 20 U.S. attorneys who advise the attorney general on a number of issues.

“I am extremely honored to serve in this additional capacity,” Burke stated in a press release. “Border and immigration issues are not only a District of Arizona priority, but a priority within the entire Department of Justice. I look forward to working with my U.S. attorney colleagues, as well as with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona to advise the attorney general on these matters.”

When Burke was nominated to the position, he said one of his greatest priorities as U.S. attorney would be border-related crime, especially in terms of human smuggling and drug trafficking. He has declined interview requests from the Arizona Capitol Times on several occasions since then.

Burke’s appointment comes as the debate over illegal immigration and related crime is back in the spotlight. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July announced changes to its 287(g) program that would focus the program mainly on illegal immigrants who had committed other crimes.

The agencies also refused to reauthorize their agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that allowed deputies to enforce immigration law on the streets during crime-suppression sweeps. Sheriff Joe Arpaio lambasted the agencies for the changes, though his agency still has a 287(g) agreement that allows it to investigate the immigration status of inmates in its jails.

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