[Guest post by DRJ
I've previously written here and here about the success and popularity of the Irving, Texas, 24/7 Criminal Alien Program. The program is designed to identify criminal aliens and turn them over to federal authorities for identification and, if appropriate, deportation.
The Dallas Morning News reports that, due to an overwhelming response, ICE has instructed Irving and other area cities to cease referrals of illegal immigrants who are charged with Class C misdemeanors like speeding, assault, public intoxication and hot checks:
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in North Texas will no longer detain most illegal immigrants arrested for Class C misdemeanors, citing a dramatic increase in referrals and limited resources. The agency began notifying area cities this week that it wants to target suspected illegal immigrants charged with more serious crimes for deportation.
Dallas ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said Tuesday increased awareness of the Criminal Alien Program has led to a recent spike in the number of referrals the agency receives from local law enforcement agencies. “These additional referrals required additional resources not immediately available,” said Mr. Rusnok, whose office covers 128 Texas counties and all of Oklahoma.
ICE officials are directing local law enforcement agencies to refer people suspected of being in the country illegally if they have been arrested for Class B misdemeanors or more serious crimes. The agency will continue to look at those arrested for Class C misdemeanors if, for example, the person is in possession of a firearm, has an immigration warrant or a criminal record involving a Class B misdemeanor or more serious crime.
Irving officials estimate that 60 percent of the more than 1,700 suspected illegal immigrants they have turned over to ICE for deportation since last year faced only Class C misdemeanor charges. Such charges include speeding, assault, public intoxication and hot checks. The penalty for Class C misdemeanors is a fine not to exceed $500.”
Hispanic activists see this as a victory:
“Today it’s a big celebration for all immigrants that the CAP program is going to be revised and that illegal immigrants in Irving will not be deported for traffic citations,” said Carlos Quintanilla, who has gained media attention for organizing rallies in opposition to the program. “That means our fight has been a great fight.”
He said his attorney plans to file a lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality and disparity in how CAP is implemented.”
Enforcement advocates expressed frustration:
” State Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, said Texas and other border states are frustrated that the federal government is not following through on its job. “If we’ve identified illegal immigrants, especially if they’re committing crimes, it needs to be dealt with,” said Mr. Paxton, who is also on the board of directors for the Texas Conservative Coalition. “They’re not supposed to be here.”
Farmers Branch Mayor Pro Tem Tim O’Hare said ICE’s change in policy is telling. “The first thing I think it tells you is how many people who are here illegally break other laws, other than just being in the country illegally,” Mr. O’Hare said. It’s also indicative of the large number of illegal immigrants in the Dallas area, he said.”
This is a good news/bad news story. It’s bad news that ICE won’t cooperate with local authorities to deport criminal aliens but the good news is the increase in cities that are participating in the federal Criminal Alien Program.