Governor, police departments fight over immigration policy in Texas

On behalf of David Trevino

Texas Governor Greg Abbot wants to pass a law preventing local cities and law enforcement from determining whether to hold detainees for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

United States laws on “illegal” immigrants are a source of political and social controversy in the country. Anyone in the U.S. without current, valid legal documentation to be in the country can be subject to removal proceedings and deported. Yet with an estimated 11 million such immigrants currently in the U.S., and with significant support for “amnesty” or some legal path to citizenship, some local police departments in Texas have created policies under which they do not necessarily cooperate with federal authorities regarding the questioning and detention of suspected illegal immigrants.

Most recently, Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez, in October, changed the Dallas Police Department’s policy to no longer honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests, which are written notices to police departments to detain an individual in custody for an additional 48 hours after his or her release date. The two days allows ICE to determine if they should place the individual in federal custody.

There is even some debate regarding whether ICE detainer requests violate the U.S. Constitution. Several U.S. Court of Appeals cases have held that detainers based solely on request of ICE is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Both Austin and San Antonio have similar policies to the one recently enacted in Dallas. Known misleadingly as “sanctuary cities,” these and other local municipalities have been the focus of much controversy. Shortly after Sheriff Valdez enacted the DPD’s policy, for example, Governor Gregg Abbot announced he is seeking to pass a law that would prohibit cities and police departments in Texas from deciding their own policy towards ICE detainer requests.

Have immigration questions or need legal help?

U.S. immigration laws can be complex, confusing, and sometimes even conflict with each other. If you have legal concerns over your immigration status, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer to discuss your situation.

For example, under President Obama’s executive order, issued in 2012, many immigrants may qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, or DACA, even if they are not current visa holders or lawful permanent residents. Alternatively, you may be able to remain lawfully in the U.S. through President Obama’s 2014 executive order which expanded a provisional waiver program allowing undocumented immigrants with close family members in the U.S. to remain in the country legally. The appropriate course of action for you will depend on your particular circumstances and your current immigration status.

Trevino Immigration Law is an experienced immigration law firm located in San Antonio, Texas.