City policy protecting immigrants under fire
Moves are afoot to make police enforce laws; foes fear possibility of raids, roundups
— reported by the Houston Chronicle
Since 1992, Houston police officers have been officially forbidden from enforcing immigration law in most cases. Other city departments generally take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach toward immigrants, officials acknowledge.
Now those policies are under attack. Locally, City Councilman Mark Ellis called this week for training HPD officers to enforce immigration laws. And in Washington, D.C., congressional conservatives have proposed legislation to require local police to help patrol for illegal immigrants.
Ellis, a Republican, said city officials should have heeded a 2002 proposal from then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to increase federal and local cooperation on immigration law.
Critics also question what would happen if local police did begin arresting illegal immigrants, since the federal government has acknowledged it has nowhere to hold them. Though there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has jail space for only 20,000 of them.