Counties in Texas and Elsewhere Sign On to Controversial Federal Program Targeting Immigrants
Donald Trump’s effort to boot undocumented immigrants out of our America could get help from at least 18 counties in Texas and five more in other states that want to sign up for a program that lets counties serve as de facto immigration enforcers.
“He promises to go after and separate families like my own,” said Cristina Jimenez who was brought to the U.S. from Ecuador at age 13.
Thirty-seven sheriff’s offices in 16 states currently participate. The program gets its name from a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who talks a lot about supposed dangers of immigrants, is threatening to withhold Justice Department funds from cities that don’t provide information about immigrants to the feds.
In one recent raid, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents shot a man in Chicago they later acknowledged wasn’t the person they were seeking.
The wannabe Texas immigration enforcers include Waller County where Sandra Bland died in 2015 at the county jail after she was pulled over on a traffic stop. The ACLU cited the Bland case and civil rights violations with five other applicants, including Nye County in Nevada and Cape May County in New Jersey in a letter asking ICE to end the 287(g) program.
Obama’s ICE did kick some of the most racist sheriffs out of the program. Maricopa County in Arizona was terminated in 2011 because then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio abused the rights of Latinos. Arpaio is currently facing a criminal charge for disobeying a court order to stop his immigrant-busting patrols. Alamance County in North Carolina was also dropped.
Other sheriff’s offices, including Los Angeles County, quit the program after a U.S. magistrate judge found the Fourth Amendment rights of immigrant Maria Miranda-Olivares against unreasonable detention were violated in Clackamas County in Oregon.
In Houston, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he is ending the county’s 287(g) program which will save the county about $675,000 a year.
Although relatively few counties participate in the 287(g) program, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center found that 1,922 counties, or 75% of counties, will hold immigrants, willingly violating their Fourth Amendment rights.
Some immigrant families flee counties that cooperate with immigrant crackdowns. In northern Virginia, Frederick County saw a 61% drop in Hispanic noncitizens while Prince William County had a 23% decline.