ANAHEIM : Police Trained to Spot Illegal Immigrants

Investigators with the Immigration and Naturalization Service trained police officers at the city jail this week on how to identify arrestees who are in the United States illegally.

The training reflects a closer working relationship between the city and the INS as part of a stepped-up effort to reduce the number of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, officials said.

"I'm sure it will increase their awareness," Police Chief Randall Gaston said of jail personnel.

As a result of the training, Gaston said Friday, Anaheim will revise its procedures for questioning arrestees about their citizenship status, a practice that began in October on orders of the City Council.

Gaston, who plans to update the council on the jail survey results next week, said that about a third of the arrestees questioned have admitted to being in the country illegally.

Based on those results, officials estimate that Anaheim is spending about $900,000 a year to process illegal immigrants at the jail.

Anaheim officials are seeking federal approval to station an INS agent at the jail, along with federal funding for the pilot program. If federal funding is not approved, the council has voted to pick up the tab for a six-month trial period at a cost of $37,500.

Councilman Bob Zemel, who is spearheading that effort, described this week's training program as a positive step. He said an INS agent is still needed, however, to identify illegal immigrants before their court appearances.

Illegal immigrants pose a significant flight risk, Zemel said, so a suspect's citizenship status should be known by the judge.

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