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Should undocumented immigrants report crimes against them?

Undocumented immigrants in the United States must cope with high levels of stress. They may live in constant fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents could show up at their place of work anytime to arrest them. A minor traffic violation could lead to arrest and deportation. Even a hospital visit could result in medical repatriation.

But what happens if an undocumented immigrant is assaulted or robbed? Is it safe for them to report the crime to the police?

The level of collaboration between the local police department and ICE varies by county in Texas. In today’s post, we examine these differences.

287(g) agreements

The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to set up so-called “287(g) agreements” with individual, local law enforcement agencies across the country—giving them the power to enforce federal immigration law. Local law enforcement agencies who sign such agreements may detain undocumented immigrants they encounter in their normal, day-to-day work—and report them to ICE.

Who has signed on?

Critics of 287(g) have cited that such arrangements lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses. In 2017, the Carrollton police department—in the northern metro area of Dallas—and the Harris County sheriff’s department—in Houston—withdrew from their 287(g) agreements. However, in the last two years, 25 Texas counties have signed new 287(g) agreements with the federal government. Most of these counties are located in the San Antonio and Houston areas.

Anybody—citizen or not—should be able to enjoy protections from basic human rights abuses. However, the 287(g) agreements have redefined the role of local law enforcement agencies—which has in turn engendered distrust of such agencies among certain subsets of society.

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