Immigration And Customs Enforcement

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Travis County raised nearly $90,000 as of Monday afternoon through an online initiative set up after Gov. Greg Abbott cut $1.5 million in grant funding over the sheriff’s new immigration policy. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) launched the fundraising site Friday in partnership with the Austin Community Foundation.

Immigration activists and attorneys in Travis County are bracing for the possibility of deportation raids by federal officials in the coming days. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Texas lawmakers heard hours of public testimony Thursday and into early Friday morning over a bill banning so-called “sanctuary cities” in Texas, ultimately voting early this morning 7-2 along party lines to send the bill to the full Senate.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The governor’s office has asked state agencies to send a list of funds, including federal money, directed to Travis County last year. In a letter sent Thursday, Budget Director Steven Albright said the list “should be complete with the amount of funds and the purpose of the agreement” and be submitted by Feb. 3.

Dani Matias for KUT

In response to vows from the state and federal government to knock out so-called “sanctuary cities," roughly 30 people crowded around a rickety podium Wednesday to announce their support of Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s immigration policy.

RS12240/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Lewisville, Lubbock, Sherman – just a handful of Texas cities where there will be gun shows this weekend. At any given time, nearly a half dozen cities across the state host weekend gun shows where sellers, buyers, and collectors congregate in what amounts to a firearms bazaar of sorts.

Criticism over these events focuses on a lack of universal background checks for purchasers. But law enforcement agents have been tracking some gun show patrons’ license plates.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

From Texas Standard:

A few weeks ago the U.S. Department of Justice announced they will end federal use of privately run prisons. Now their attention has turned to the country’s use of private immigration detention facilities.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Monday that he has ordered the homeland security advisory council to review processes and costs related to these facilities.

 


Image via Wikimedia/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott warned Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez that he’d “no longer tolerate” Texas sheriff offices that don’t comply with federal immigration authorities on detainer requests. Yesterday Abbott made good on his threat: he says the state will withhold grant funding from any counties that refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Valdez has caught flak for saying she would begin making case-by-case decisions on whether to honor ICE requests for detainment. The requests ask county jails to hold undocumented immigrants with criminal records for up to 48 hours longer than their set release time so officials can take them into custody.

 


Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Obama administration to comply with a federal order to release undocumented immigrants — predominantly women and children — being held at two privately-run detention centers in south Texas.

 

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

About 250 children at a South Texas immigrant detention center were administered adult-size doses of a Hepatitis A vaccine, officials say. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling the mistake a "mix-up." ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said this weekend health professionals are monitoring the children who received the wrong dosage of the vaccine.

The kids are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. The facility is an immigrant detention center for mothers and their children, and it's run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

More than 40 mothers held in the Karnes Detention Center started a hunger strike Tuesday to protest for their release, according to the San Antonio legal aid organization RAICES. The center detains immigrant families who cross the border illegally.

RAICES says it recorded a phone call with a detainee, which it posted to YouTube. In it, a woman speaking in Spanish confirms the strike and reports that more women are joining up.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The Austin City Council is taking steps to limit its role in Federal Secure Communities, a program that relies on partnerships among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to deport undocumented immigrants. The program has been criticized for detaining and deporting individuals charged with misdemeanors, rather than serious crimes.

On Thursday night, the council voted unanimously to instruct city staff to make amendments to a proposed interlocal agreement with Travis County. The new language would require the Travis County Sheriff's Office to only honor detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when there are judge-issued arrest warrants or probably cause of crime.

The amendments, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez, were intended to “either minimize the impact of Secure Communities on Austin families, or increase transparency around the program” and its impact.

Last month, hundreds of children who were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border – many of them unaccompanied on their journey – were moved to a family detention center south of San Antonio.

The Karnes County Residential Center houses hundreds of immigrants that, as of now, stand little chance of being released from the facility.

In many cases, immigrants have been priced out of their release bonds, with some bonds as high as $25,000. In effect, the detainees have been denied the release, except for one family.

Sara Beltran Rodriguez and her daughter were the first to be released from the facility. And while they’ve traveled thousands of miles and crossed several borders on their journey to Texas, the family has another life-threatening battle to fight.

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Militia groups are planning their own response to the recent flood of Central American immigrants across the Texas-Mexico border, according to a San Antonio Express-News report. The initiative called Operation Secure Our Border says it is recruiting armed volunteers to bolster law enforcement and border patrols near Laredo as soon as next week, but that they will not directly engage any so-called "illegals."

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Dozens of jurisdictions across the country have backed away from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation program known as Secure Communities.

But Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton is not backing away from the controversial program. And in response, a group of Austin attorneys announced Thursday they plan to start suing the county for its Secure Communities detentions.

As ICE writes, the program "prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators." But critics charge the program has been overused and resides on shaky legal ground. 

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In Texas, Border Patrol Agents are among those affected by Washington’s across-the-board budget cuts known as the “sequester”. The men and women guarding the more than 12 hundred miles of Texas’ border say that brings good news and bad news at a time when illegal border crossings from Mexico are slightly up.

Sequester-related furloughs for border patrol agents start next month. Meaning, there will be fewer agents at the border at any given time and agents will not get paid for the fourteen days they are furloughed.

Charles Reed, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

The United States is returning to Mexico more than 4,000 architectural relics that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have seized across the nation.

ICE says many of the items date from before European explorers reached the North American continent. The items include pre-Columbian stones used to grind corn and other grains, statues, figurines, copper hatchets and other artifacts.

Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

A new law that took effect on September 1st may make it easier for foreign-born criminal offenders in Texas to meet parole eligibility requirements, if they are subsequently deported. The law, authored by Representative Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, is designed to ease the state’s financial burden by deporting non-citizens instead of supporting their parole.

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