MANASSAS, Va. — Prince William County officials are criticizing federal immigration authorities for moving to change the way illegal immigrants are investigated and detained in the county.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified the county it’s phasing out agreements that allow local police to investigate the immigration status of people arrested. After this year, county officials will only be able to check suspects’ names against a federal immigration database.

The Obama administration instructed federal authorities to focus on border security and those who commit serious crimes.

County officials say they’re stunned to learn their agreement with federal officials was being phased out and not extended for another three years.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart says federal officials are abandoning their responsibilities. He says the county has a duty to protect its citizens.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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