HOUSTON — Today the ACLU of Texas dispatched letters to 13 Texas counties concerning their decision or their intention to enter into a 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the 287(g) program, local law enforcement agencies agree to dedicate resources, training and manpower to enforce immigration law on behalf of the federal government. The program has been widely criticized for wasting scarce local resources, eroding trust in immigrant communities, encouraging constitutional violations and compromising public safety.
“With ICE conducting roundups at schools and in courthouses, immigrant communities are already on edge,” said Astrid Dominguez, policy strategist for the ACLU of Texas, “and having local law enforcement officers do ICE agents’ work for them has not made those communities any safer. On the contrary, the 287(g) program drives both witnesses and victims of crimes into the shadows and annihilates the trust and cooperation on which local law enforcement officers rely in order to do their jobs and keep Texans safe. Decisions on participation in federal immigration enforcement require community input and transparent consideration, not backroom dealings with ICE.”
“The 287(g) program is fraught with constitutional red flags,” said Edgar Saldivar, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “In addition to diverting indispensable resources away from public safety, the program encourages racial profiling and creates fertile conditions for Fourth Amendment violations in Texas jails. Counties have no obligation under federal law to enter this voluntary program, and considering the risks to public safety and the potential exposure to civil rights liability, it’s a mystery why any of them would.”
The ACLU of Texas sent the letter to sheriffs in the following counties: Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, DeWitt, Galveston, Goliad, Lavaca, Matagorda, Montgomery, Refugio, Walker and Wharton.