HOUSTON — Yesterday, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez fulfilled a campaign promise and announced Harris County’s termination of its 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The 287(g) program essentially deputizes selected local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents within local jails.
“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 of Texas. “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. We call on other jurisdictions throughout the state of Texas to follow Harris County’s example and reconsider their use of voluntary programs like 287(g) that can lead to constitutional violations.”
Shortly after the election, the ACLU of Texas sent a letter to Sheriff Gonzalez congratulating him on his victory and offering guidance as to how to go about legally ending the program. The letter also called attention to the practice of honoring ICE detainers, which are requests to hold noncitizens beyond their release date. The practice raises serious constitutional concerns because detainers are not warrants and do not satisfy probable cause.
“The 287(g) program is a perfect example of how not to go about enforcing immigration law, and we’re delighted that Sheriff Gonzalez has followed through on his promise to terminate the program,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “This is a welcome first step, but I would also urge Sheriff Gonzalez not to honor future ICE detainers, which only undermine public safety by driving victims and witnesses into the shadows.”
The ACLU of Texas also worked closely with groups like United We Dream, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Texas Organizing Project in the joint effort to raise awareness of the problems with the 287(g) program and demand its termination.