state of Texas still holding out, Harris County isn't

Localized immigration enforcement on rise
Federal inaction means more than ever, nation’s law agencies take issue into own hands

— reported by the Houston Chronicle

Local and state law enforcement agencies throughout the country are
taking unprecedented steps to police illegal immigration, a
responsibility historically reserved for the federal government.

So far this year, officers from 23 county and state agencies from
Virginia to California have been trained under a 1996 federal law that
allows them to make immigration arrests and process jailed illegal
immigrants for deportation. That’s more than five times the number of
training requests made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in all of


In Texas, no department has signed up for the federal cross-training.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said there are
no plans to undergo the training in the future. “Our stance has always
been that we don’t enforce immigration policy,” Vinger said.


Beyond 287 (g) and new state laws, local authorities are also employing
the ICE Criminal Alien Program to help police immigration.

As part of the program, Harris County officials say they began
asking county jail inmates in September 2006 if they were in the
country legally.

So far, the policy change has resulted in jail officials making 5,556 referrals to ICE agents, said Lt. John Martin.

After the county makes the referrals, ICE can place detainers on the immigrants, preventing their release.

Rusnok, the ICE spokesman, said the agency so far has lodged 4,028
detainers against illegal immigrants in the Harris County jail but
could not provide the number deported.


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