A growing local alliance in federal immigration law enforcement

| Mar 25, 2017 | US Immigration Law

As various local law enforcement agencies in Texas refuse to cooperate with increased federal immigration enforcement, 16 are taking a different stand.

What seemed like a unified front of resistance may not be so unified. Thirteen sheriff’s offices located in rural South Texas and along the coast may be turning the tide.

Those agencies have formally applied for the 287(g) program. The initiative would see those groups collaborating with federal immigration authorities and having the authority to enforce immigration law.

Upon approval, the number of local police signing up would increase five times.

The program would see sheriff’s deputies undergo training conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to serve as immigration agents in the jails. Deputies would question inmates detained regarding their immigration status and subsequently place immigration detainers on them.

The 287(g) program’s membership peaked in 2009 with approximately 70 law enforcement agencies nationwide. Some pulled out after participants engaged in racial profiling and excessive costs to taxpayers, including $675,000 charged to Harris County. Newly elected sheriff Ed Gonzalez left the program over the six-figure price tag.

However, the program gained a boost when President Donald Trump signed an executive order in the days following his inauguration. Referred to as a crackdown on sanctuary jurisdictions, the decree called on local and state police to act as immigration officials.

As membership grows and efforts continue to ramp up, Texas legislators are currently debating a controversial measure that would punish local jails for non-cooperation with ICE. Opponents claim that Washington should be the sole authority on immigration enforcement instead of enrolling in what they see as “Trump’s deportation force.”