13 Texas Counties Seek Authority from Trump to Enforce Immigration Law

The law enforcement agencies, mostly in rural South Texas and along the coast, have applied to enroll in the 287(g) agreement.

ICE agents will likely soon be collaborating much more with Texas sheriffs.  Wikimedia Commons

At least 13 law enforcement agencies in Texas have applied to collaborate with federal immigration authorities through a controversial program, according to a document obtained by the Observer.

If approved, the number of Texas law enforcement agencies enrolled in the 287(g) partnership, which delegates to local police the authority to enforce immigration law, would increase more than fivefold.

Currently, only three Texas agencies participate in 287(g): the Lubbock and Jackson county sheriff’s departments and the Carrollton Police Department.

All 13 Texas applicants are sheriff’s offices, mostly in rural South Texas and along the coast. Five other law enforcement agencies outside Texas also applied. (Full list below.)

Under the type of 287(g) arrangement sought by the sheriffs, their deputies would be trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to serve as immigration agents in the jail. Under the program, deputies could question people in detention about their immigration status and place immigration detainers on inmates.

In April, the counties’ applications will go before the ICE 287(g) Program Advisory Board for review.

ICE agents train local officers under the 287(g) program.  Wikimedia Commons

At its peak in 2009, at least 70 local law enforcement agencies around the country were enrolled in 287(g). But many agencies pulled out over criticism that participation spurred racial profiling and cost local taxpayers too much. Harris County left the voluntary program last month, because newly elected Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the $675,000 price tag was too steep.

But in late January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that called on local and state police to act as immigration officials and urged a crack-down on “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

In Texas, state police appear to be ramping up their cooperation with immigration enforcement, while legislators are debating a controversial measure to punish local jails that don’t fully cooperate with ICE.

Chris Rickerd, policy counsel for the ACLU’s National Political Advocacy Department, said the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants and the expansion of the 287(g) program will only make communities less safe.

“When the public isn’t sure whether police are there to protect or deport them, crimes don’t get reported and domestic violence survivors stay silent rather than calling 911,” Rickerd said. ”Sheriffs should leave federal immigration enforcement to Washington, D.C., rather than divisively subsidizing and enrolling in Trump’s deportation force.”

The following list was provided by the ACLU:

Texas counties:

Aransas County Sheriff’s Office

Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office

Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office

Chambers County Sheriff’s Office

DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office

Galveston County Sheriff’s Office

Goliad County Sheriff’s Office

Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office

Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

Refugio County Sheriff’s Office

Walker County Sheriff’s Office

Wharton County Sheriff’s Office

Non-Texas counties:

Clay County Sheriff’s Office— Florida

Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office—Virginia

Horry County Sheriff’s Office—South Carolina

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office—Florida

Knox County Sheriff’s Office—Tennessee

Melissa del Bosque is a staff writer and a 2016-17 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.

Get the latest Texas Observer news, analysis and investigations via FacebookTwitter and our weekly newsletter.

Enter your email


 

You May Also Like:

Published at 5:57 pm CST
Top