U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is getting newfound cooperation from Texas. This week, ICE announced partnerships with 18 Texas sheriffs as part of its 287(g) program, which works with local law enforcement to help track down and arrest criminal illegal aliens. The move amounts to a huge surge for the program, as only three Texas jurisdictions were part of it last year. Nationally, the number of law enforcement agencies joining 287(g) is now at 60, double the number from last year.
While many Texas leaders are touting their partnerships with ICE, others are not so keen on the 287(g) program. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls tells KTRH that his department already fully cooperates with ICE without 287(g). "In Fort Bend County we have not had any issues working with our ICE partners," he says. "We've done a great job, every day the list is sent to ICE and they tell us who they would like detainers on, we don't question it."
Nevertheless, Nehls believes 287(g) amounts to an unnecessary expense. "287(g) would require me to send deputies to training, I'd have to hire more deputies to implement the program at a tune of about a half a million dollars," he says. "I don't know why I would want to spend a half a million of our tax dollars on something that isn't broken."
Earlier this year, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez opted out of the 287(g) program for similar reasons as Nehls, but Gonzalez also maintained his department still cooperates with ICE and honors detainer requests. Sheriff's Departments in Southeast Texas that have joined the program include those in Montgomery, Galveston, Matagorda, Waller, Wharton and Chambers Counties.
Nehls maintains he can still cooperate fully with ICE without joining the 287(g) program. "We have a great relationship with ICE," he says. "I don't have any issues with ICE, and ICE doesn't have any issues with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office."