Blog Archive

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Immigration: Irving vs. ICE tensions

By Katherine Leal Unmuth
Jun 30, 2010
Dallas Morning News

This dispatch is from reporter Leigh Munsil:

The City of Irving is facing off against federal officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the city's Criminal Alien Program, which has drawn national attention and given Irving a reputation for being especially tough on illegal immigration. At the Irving City Council work session last Wednesday, Mayor Herbert Gears suggested that the federal government is trying to tamper with the program, which is unique in the country and has resulted in more immigration holds than any other city, he said. The program allows federal authorities to check the immigration status of inmates in the city's jail, and has turned over more than 5,600 people for deportation since it began in 2006.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said in the work session that ICE notified the Irving PD in September 2009 that it would no longer be accepting prisoners arrested for Class C misdemeanors, which resulted in a dramatic drop in immigration holds. However, in a previous story, ICE officials said that their program had not changed; instead, Irving stopped recommending some inmates for immigration holds.

ICE officials "called us a liar" in the story, Gears said, because the city continues to "rigorously enforce the program."

"There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why they choose to accept some [inmates] and don't accept others," said Boyd, pointing to October 2009 as an example -- out of 27 prisoners referred, ICE refused to process 18, he said.

But since the story ran last Monday, Boyd said, ICE officials have not refused to process a single Class C offender.