For Immediate Release: August 1, 2017
Contact: Jareyah Bradley, jareyah [at] balestramedia.com, 908.242.4822
Texas’ Increased Support for Federal Deportation Machine Endangers All Residents, Says the Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Yesterday, ICE announced that 18 new Sheriff Offices in Texas had agreed to be part of the voluntary 287(g) program that allows ICE to deputize local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws. This is unprecedented as Texas previously only had three 287(g) agreements statewide, with only one agreement with a Sheriff’s office, which was subsequently terminated. With 19 counties total on board, Texas accounts for almost one-third of the 60 jurisdictions nationwide who voluntarily choose to use their local resources to help the federal government carry out deportations. Acting ICE chief Tom Homan has stated that his goal for Texas is 100 percent participation in the program in all counties in the state.
These new 287(g) agreements add a renewed urgency to repeal SB 4, set to go into law on September 1st. SB 4 seeks to prevent and threatens to punish city and county officials from passing policies restricting harmful immigration enforcement practices and further promotes racial profiling of communities of color across Texas. SB 4 is currently being litigated in the Federal Court of the Western District of Texas.
“Arresting immigrants first and asking questions later, after they have been jailed and detained for deportation, would upend the bedrock of our justice system and divert using local resources that promote real community safety,” said Angie Junck, supervising attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Training law enforcement officers to operate as another arm of the federal deportation machine will compound the problems we are seeing already with community trust being eroded, fear spreading among residents and painful family separations.”
“The administration has been aggressively recruiting local law enforcement to serve as their boots on the ground to round up immigrants for them at the expense of addressing local priorities,” Junck continued. “This national trend to pressure states to jail and deport immigrants, that we are seeing now in 18 states across America, threatens to violate the constitutional rights of residents, increase racial profiling across the country and discourage witnesses and survivors of crimes coming forward—compromising the safety of all community residents. Though the administration is trying to tout this as a victory, the reality is that almost 93 percent of Texas is not on board with doing ICE’s job despite their strong arm tactics and we hope their stance emboldens other states that the administration is targeting.”
The ILRC has been involved in putting forward local policy options to address criminalization of immigrants and other communities of color with grassroots groups in Texas such as United We Dream, which thus far has resulted in the ending of the 287(g) agreement in Harris County, Texas this year, the largest 287(g) agreement in the country. Their recommendations for the Houston Police Department included adopting non-biasing policing policies, increasing cite and release policies, and establishing data collection procedures on racial profiling. The ILRC also conducted two recent legal trainings on the immigration consequences of criminal proceedings and deportation defense for almost 200 legal service providers in Houston and Dallas to help be at the frontlines of defending against further criminalization.
There are currently 60 active 287(g) agreements in 18 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. ICE has trained and certified more than 1,822 state and local officers to enforce immigration law.
For interviews, please contact Jareyah Bradley at jareyah [at] balestramedia.com or 908.242.4822.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. www.ilrc.org