Deals Signed Between US Presidential Administration and Texas Counties on Immigration Issues

On the 31st of July, immigration authorities in the US signed deals with 18 counties out of a total of 254 in Texas. The deals were signed to expand a programme which allows jailers from the local sheriffs’ offices to cooperate with the federal authorities regarding immigration issues.

The arrangement have been signed at a meeting of the local sheriffs which took place in the suburban area of Dallas The arrangement comes as an attempt on behalf of both the administration of US Republican President Donald Trump, and Texas, the most populous state in the US controlled by the Republicans, to crack down on “sanctuary cities”, which are known to be places that host immigrants who are in the US illegally.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in the United States agreed upon what is known as a 287(g) agreement with the counties. The agreement gives instructions to the local agents in the sheriff’s offices to check if the people that are in their custody are violating the US immigration law in any way or not.

Immigration programme in discussion since 1996

The immigration programme has been a subject of discussion since 1996 and gives the Department of Homeland Security the permission to enter into formal written agreements with local police departments and states for officers to perform certain functions of federal immigration enforcement officials.

While attending a news conference, Tom Homan, the current director of ICE said that “there’s no doubt that arresting removable aliens in a jail is safer for the officers, safer for the community and even safer for the alien himself”.

On the other hand, the sheriff of Jackson County, A. J. Louderback, said in the news conference that the county he represents, which is placed southwest of Houston, joined the programme to have control over criminality.

The Harris County sheriff, which is the home county to Houston and the most populous one, gave up the program earlier this year, arguing that the costs of his office when it came to manpower and money were too high.

A big part of the 18 counties involved are placed near Harris County and have a total of around 1.5 million people living within. The total population of the Texas County consists of around 28 million people.

Immigration agreement targeting jails

The latest agreement in Texas targets jails. However, a task force model of the program has been applied to allow patrolling police to verify the people’s immigration status. Groups of people supporting civil rights argue that the method promotes illegal racial profiling.

According to ICE, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the former presidential administration, under Barrack Obama, eliminated the task force model while between 2012 and 2016 only six new agreements were added.

Including the 18 recently added programmes in Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reached 60 active 287(g) agreements, which is almost double the number of programmes that were active last year.

The mandate of expanding the immigration programme was highlighted in an executive order regarding immigration enforcement that was signed a few days after Donald Trump became president of the United States in January.

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