26 February 2010

New Houston Mayor Bails On Campaign Promise To Screen For Illegal Immigrants In City Jails

Houston Chronicle: Cost sidelines Parker promise to use ICE initiative at city jail

Mayor Annise Parker has shelved a campaign promise to use a controversial federal program to screen for illegal immigrants in local jails, saying the city has not yet decided to fund the initiative amid a tight budget year.

Instead, she said, the city is focused on a less costly program that automatically checks the immigration history of all suspects booked into the city's jails. That program, dubbed Secure Communities, was launched by the former mayor and has been up and running since December.

Parker said on the campaign trail that she favored having the city participate in both Immigration and Customs Enforcement programs, and pledged to dedicate city funds if necessary.

But so far her administration has not taken any steps toward signing up for 287(g), which trains jailers to act as immigration agents. Former Police Chief Harold Hurtt estimated that having the city participate in that program would cost as much as $2 million annually.

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