ACLU Texas Demands Info on County Agreements with ICE

The ACLU of Texas wants details from some county sheriffs about their agreements to allow local deputies to act as federal immigration officers. Photo: Kaybe70/GettyImages

The ACLU of Texas wants details from some county sheriffs about their agreements to allow local deputies to act as federal immigration officers. Photo: Kaybe70/GettyImages

by Mark Richardson

HOUSTON – The American Civil Liberties Union is confronting a number of Texas counties that have entered into law-enforcement agreements with federal immigration officials.

The ACLU of Texas has filed Public Information Act requests with seven county sheriffs’ offices, asking for details of their 287(g) agreements made with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Astrid Dominguez, a policy strategist with the ACLU of Texas, says the agreements empower local officers to act as immigration agents on behalf of the federal agency.

“The 287(g) program is an agreement that the sheriff’s department enters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deputize sheriffs’ deputies as ICE agents,” she explains. “So, our sheriffs are going to be doing ICE’s job at the jail.”

She says the program goes beyond Secure Communities agreements, in which local sheriffs notify ICE when undocumented people in jail are scheduled for release. The Obama Administration halted that program in 2014, but it was revived by President Donald Trump.

The request seeks 287(g) records from Burnet, Kendall, Nueces, Potter, Rockwall, Terrell and Williamson counties.

Dominguez contends the program drains critical funds from local law-enforcement agencies.

“We’re diverting resources from our deputies’ mission, which is to protect and serve our communities, to do immigration,” she adds. “This is at a cost to the taxpayer because ICE only pays for the training, but they’re not paying for that agent’s salary. So, that’s coming out of our pockets.”

She adds many of these agreements are being executed out of the public eye.

“It can’t happen in closed-door meetings with the community not having access,” she says. “We need to know why the sheriffs want to do this, we need to know the conversations they’re having, and we want to know why the sheriffs think this is a good idea for their communities.”

Dominguez says other concerns are that the 287(g) agreements compromise public safety, lead to racial profiling, and erode trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

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