Officials: new immigration unit a year away

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The head of South Carolina's public safety agency says a new state police unit that legislators created to enforce immigration law may be more than a year away.

Interim Department of Public Safety director Col. F. K. Lancaster Jr. told The Associated Press that the agency is waiting to hear from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about undergoing its four-week 287g training. He says an answer might take 18 months. The program effectively deputizes local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

Legislators gave his agency $1.3 million this fiscal year to set up the 10-officer unit. Its creation is required under the state's latest anti-illegal immigration law, signed by Gov. Nikki Haley in June.

Republican Sen. Larry Martin said Tuesday that waiting on the federal government is unacceptable.

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