HOUSTON — Nine sheriff deputies from Harris County have completed a rigorous four-week training program Friday, which authorizes them to enforce federal immigration law under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) "287(g) program."
The training was held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, S.C. Harris County Sheriff's Office and ICE have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) as authorized through section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The signed agreement and training enable officers, supervised by ICE, to legally identify criminal and illegal aliens that they may encounter, and to initiate removal proceedings for those found to be in the country illegally.
The four-week course provides in-depth training on various enforcement topics, including: immigration law, intercultural relations, and how to use DHS databases to help positively identify criminals and immigration violators.
"Immigration is one of the most complex issues facing law enforcement today. Addressing illegal immigration effectively requires cooperation between all levels of law enforcement and I am proud to have nine graduates from the 287G program working within our agency. The Harris County Sheriff's Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue to work together toward the common goal of making our community safer by identifying and processing illegal aliens within the Harris County jail system" said, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas.
The 287(g) program is named after the section of law under the INA that authorizes ICE to train local officers to enforce immigration law. The program has received more than $42 million for training and other associated costs under the current fiscal year 2008 budget - up from just over $15 million the program received in 2007. Currently, 62 local enforcement agencies spanning the nation have signed MOAs with ICE and now more than 840 officers have been trained to enforce immigration law. The officers from those agencies are credited with identifying more than 65,000 individuals with possible immigration violations since the beginning of 2006.
The 287(g) program is only one component under the ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) umbrella of services available to assist local law enforcement officers. ICE ACCESS provides local law enforcement agencies an opportunity to partner with ICE to combat specific challenges in their communities.
Other ICE ACCESS enforcement options include the creation of local task forces targeting specific challenges like gangs or document fraud, the presence of a Criminal Alien Program (CAP) team in local detention facilities to identify criminal aliens, or training to utilize the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) which provides officers the ability to inquire about a person's immigration and criminal history.
More information about ICE's 287(g) program is available at: Section287(g)