More Scrutiny over Policy

The federal initiative that trains local jailers to screen for illegal immigrants is getting a lot of attention in Houston. Harris County Commissioners voted to continue the practice. Now, some members of Houston City Council want the city to take another look at the federal program. Pat Hernandez has more.

Four members of Houston city council, Toni Lawrence, Ann Clutterbuck, Pam Holm and Michael Sullivan held a press conference on the 287(g) program.  CM Lawrence says last year, when Houston and Harris County looked at about 133-thousand suspects on criminal charges.

"The City of Houston detained only 207 for immigration agents. The county with their program of secure communities and 287(g), detained 9,110 for illegal immigration. 7-percent versus 1-percent."

Lawrence and her council colleagues believe the program would have benefited several Houston Police officers who were killed by suspects who were found to be in this country illegally. One of the slain officers was married to HPD Sgt Jocelyn Johnson.

"This tool is necessary...287(g), to enforce the local state and federal law."

But opponents of the measure say 287(g) is not the way to address the problem. Maria Jiminez is with the Central American Resource Center.

"Our concern is also about public safety, and we feel that the only thing that is obtained is a deterioration in public safety because people will fear to access police."

Bob Price is with U.S. Border Watch. He thinks failure by the city to adopt the measure would mean it is backing away from its responsibility.

"It's not discriminatory. It's a crime prevention tool to take criminals off of the streets and make this a safer community."

A spokesman for Mayor Bill White says he will discuss the matter before council meets in regular session next week.

PH, KUHF-Houstron Public Radio News.

 

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...