OKLAHOMA COUNTY - An Oklahoma County commissioner is defending the county's relationship with ICE. This comes after several citizens are demanding the jail cease all cooperation with ICE agents. 

Two ICE agents have been housed at the county jail since 2015. Jail officials said it expedites the federally mandated process of notifying ICE when someone who isn't a citizen is arrested.

For an hour and a half Monday, citizens and advocates pleaded with the Oklahoma County Jail Trust to not allow the ICE agents to continue to work inside the jail and cease all cooperation.

“Families in Oklahoma do not feel safer with those two agents sitting in the Oklahoma County Jail,” said one speaker.

“Please use your limited power wisely and humanely, do not willingly cooperate with the unnecessarily brutal and inhumane abuses at the federal level,” said another speaker.

The issue was brought up by jail trust member, former State Senator Ben Brown, who said having ICE agents at the jail was counter to what he believes city leaders and he would want.  

But Commissioner Brian Maughan defended the policy.

“The law is the law, and currently this is in place and we have to follow it,” he said. “We don’t want to become a society where we’re just going to shirk our responsibility to follow the law.”

Maughan said having ICE agents at the jail has helped identify individuals who have committed serious crimes. And getting them out of local jurisdiction as soon as possible is a big savings to the county and taxpayers.

“If we’re picking up major drug traffickers or if there are serious violation of law, there’s also a great chance they did that elsewhere and there are federal holds on them. In many cases they worked on getting those extradited right away, so it eliminates us from having that expense there.”

At this point, the jail trust doesn't have operational authority yet to make any changes regarding this issue.