Fewer than 10 percent of Texas counties participate in a program that assists U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in tracking criminal illegal immigrants.
Nueces County is one of those 25 Texas counties which participate in this 287(g) initiative.
With border security at the forefront of debate in the nation, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said we’ve reached a critical tipping point.
“This is not a manufactured crisis,” Nielsen said. “This is truly an emergency. Our system is breaking.”
That’s why some law enforcement agencies are partnering with ICE in an attempt to crack down on crime in the U.S.
The program allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration policies by tracking illegal immigrants who are wanted by ICE.
That program has been operational in Nueces County since January 2018. Sheriff John Hooper said the program has been controversial at times.
“Some people believed that this relationship between the Sheriff and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be like an open door to racial profiling, when in fact it is exactly the opposite,” Hooper said.
The partnership with ICE gives two Nueces County correctional officers full access to the federal ICE database.
Those deputies went through an extensive six-week federal training program on the database, immigration policies and racial profiling.
Hooper said every person booked in the county jail is scanned in that system.
From there, some inmates are screen based on criteria like having no form of government ID, or being untraceable in the U.S. legal system.
When it’s determined that an inmate is an immigrant wanted by ICE, they are placed on a detainer.
And when their criminal charges in Nueces County are processed accordingly, the Sheriff’s Office contacts ICE and that inmate is picked up by Border Patrol agents within 48 hours.
It is then up to ICE to decide whether or not to deport the person.
Hooper said the choice to participate in the 287(g) program is primarily based on concerns for public safety.
“They’re here on charges ranging from DWI to burglary to assault to homicide,” Hooper said. “So they’re here in this jail, not because they came across the border, but they’re here in this jail because they did a crime that got them arrested here in Nueces County.”
The Secretary of Homeland Security said that in 2018 alone, law enforcement agencies partnering with ICE had more than 25,000 encounters with known criminal illegal aliens in the United States.
Because the federal ICE database is not public information, there is no real way of knowing how many illegal immigrants committing crimes in America have been deported.