Sheriff Cancels ICE Partnership; All Sides React

A policy change at the Harris County Sheriff's Office related to checking the immigration status of inmates is drawing criticism from conservative corners and support from the ACLU.

The reaction is to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez ending a partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in which his jailers join ICE personnel to review the immigration status of people in the county jail – to spot illegal immigrants and, if so chosen, begin the deportation process.

Critics like William Gheen of the conservative group ALIPAC think ending the program means more potential liability for law enforcement agencies if illegal immigrants return to the streets and injure or kill people or commit crimes against property.

Gonzalez says his move to withdraw from the so-called “287(g) program” – named for the act that created it -- puts Harris County in line with all but a handful of counties in Texas most of the state.

However, Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies warns of the risk of more crime. She tells NewsRadio 740 KTRH it’s a mistake to cancel the partnership.

The sheriff points out that ICE personnel will still have jail access for immigration checks.

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees with his policy change.

“We applaud Sheriff Gonzalez’s decision to put an end to this failed experiment in immigration enforcement,” said Edgar Saldivar, senior staff attorney of the ACLU on Texas, in a statement Wednesday. “The 287(g) program has only managed to encourage racial profiling, divert indispensable resources away from public safety, and corrode the trust between law enforcement and the communities it is sworn to protect.”

Gonzalez says the move will free up $675,000 for other law enforcement needs.

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