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Are sheriffs becoming the new ICE gatekeepers?

All around the country, tough choices confront county sheriffs regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and their jurisdictions’ values. ICE raids in both urban and rural areas in Texas leave thousands of people incarcerated and vulnerable to deportation.

Secrecy and Seclusion

People who have lived in the United States for years and who have jobs and families have the most to lose by getting picked up by ICE. Many are in fear and live in near seclusion because they do not want to attract attention.

County Government; the New Gateway

ICE officials have found local sheriffs’ jurisdictions convenient places to access illegal immigrants and have co-opted their help in bringing in large numbers of people who will have to undergo deportation proceedings.

Law Enforcers or Law Breakers?

The struggle in Texas has gained new tension with the passing of Senate Bill Four (SB4). At present, ICE’s agenda is the governor’s agenda. Since the enactment of the law, every branch of law enforcement in the state must cooperate with ICE, or they are violating state law.

Consequences of disobeying include fines and jail time. While some counties have embraced ICE’s mission and have no qualms about using local resources to enforce federal immigration policies, others, such as Travis County, have refused to comply. So far, the consequence to the county is that officers will not receive a grant for rifle-resistant body armor.

The situation is extremely fluid, both in Texas and in other states around the country. No one can know exactly how much the immigration climate will change in the near or distant future. It is sure, however, that individuals facing deportation need experienced and effective legal representation to fight removal from the United States.

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