The Houston Chronicle reports that the controversial 287(g) program used in the Harris County Jails will be extended for another two and a half years, following a unanimous vote of confidence from the Commissioners’ Court and strong campaigning from the Sheriff.
The program basically allows law enforcement to check those arrested of crimes for their immigration status, and then possibly turn them over to the Federal authorities (i.e., ICE, formerly known as INS). Supporters of the policy note that it roots out dangerous people who should be deported, while opponents allege that most of those deported are non-violent, and it presumes one is guilty until proven innocent.
287(g) in Harris County, which first reared its head during the tenure of Sheriff Tommy Thomas (a Republican), was introduced in 2008. Later that year, Thomas was defeated for re-election by Democrat Adrian Garcia. The next year, amid massive protests, the program was controversially reauthorized. Mostly because of the rather quiet nature of today’s reauthorization, there were no such protests this time. Part of this most likely stems from the different partisan composition of the Commissioner’s Court. Whereas the commissioners were, in 2009, split evenly, there are 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat today. This, of course, is because Sylvia Garcia was defeated for re-election in 2010 by Jack Morman. The elimination of Garcia, the only Hispanic on the court, probably made reauthorization easier, though Sheriff Adrian Garcia, an ardent supporter of the problem, is also a Hispanic Democrat.