18 Texas Sheriffs Join Forces With Federal Immigration Officers

by | August 1, 2017 AT 6:45 PM

By Dianne Solis and Ray Leszcynski

Eighteen counties in Texas, including Tarrant County, have entered into new pacts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allow local officers to enforce federal immigration laws, officials said Monday.

One Texas city -- Carrollton -- also is party to such an arrangement, called a 287(g) agreement. With 19 local entities on board, Texas accounts for almost one-third of the 60 pacts nationwide.

The arrangement between agencies effectively streamlines the removal of foreign-born people targeted by ICE. Counties will nominate officers for special training in jails to better identify immigrants who should be deported; in areas without such pacts, immigration enforcement is a federal matter.

Acting ICE chief Tom Homan said he would like to see the rest of Texas' 254 counties on board.

"Some of the people I have talked to have a concern this will divide the law enforcement agency from immigrant communities, which I disagree with," Homan said at the Sheriffs' Association of Texas convention in Grapevine.

Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback praised the pacts signed by sheriffs from mostly rural counties.

"The real goal here is public safety, and how we go about it," Louderback said. Safety is enhanced through unity and working together with the federal government, the sheriff said.

Homan said ICE has made about 66,000 arrests since January, and 72 percent of those arrested had a criminal history.  "These immigrant communities don't want criminal aliens in their communities, either," he said.

At a news conference packed with sheriffs in cowboy hats, Homan praised President Donald Trump for taking "handcuffs" off ICE agents: "The days of turning our head the other way are over. President Trump said we are going to enforce the law."

Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson, president of the National Sheriffs' Association and co-chairman of that organization's Immigration Committee, said his county is looking into the 287(g) pacts.

"Are the sheriffs in this country supportive of good immigration policy? Yes, we are," he said.  "And I think that's how the American people are, too."

(c)2017 The Dallas Morning News