HOUSTON – The Texas American Civil Liberties Union sent letters to 13 Texas counties warning them against agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it said would compromise public safety; and in a separate move filed a lawsuit against the federal government demanding access to records showing how airports are handling President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Called a 287(g), the proposed agreements between ICE and sheriff's departments in Texas would assign local law officers the job of dedicating resources, training and manpower to help enforce immigration laws on behalf of the federal government.
“With ICE conducting roundups in schools and courthouses, immigrant communities are already on edge,” Astrid Dominguez, policy strategist for the ACLU of Texas, told said in a press release. “Having local law enforcement officers do ICE agents’ work for them has not made those communities safer. On the contrary, the program drives both witnesses and victims into the shadows and annihilates trust and cooperation, which local law enforcement depends on to keep Texans safe.”
Texas ACLU officials said the proposal would waste local resources, erode trust in immigrant communities and encourage constitutional violations such as unreasonable search and seizure.
The 287(g) is a voluntary program. Texas ACLU officials said counties are under no obligation to enact it.
The Texas ACLU sent letters warning against the move to the counties of Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, DeWitt, Galveston, Goliad, Lavaca, Matagorda, Montgomery, Refugio, Walker and Wharton.
In a separate move, the Texas ACLU filed a lawsuit against federal officials demanding to see records that explain how U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are implementing a travel ban those from Muslim-majority countries ordered by Trump at major airports in Texas. Filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawsuit from Texas ACLU is one of 13 filed across the country seeking records from CBP offices, in the case of Texas, from the Houston CBP Field Office.
The legal action demands to see records pertaining to Trump’s ban at Houston’s Bush International Airport and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Texas ACLU officials said the suit became necessary when a Feb. 2 request to see the records had been acknowledged by the government, but it failed to respond. The lawsuit seeks information regarding how the CPB implemented executive orders from Trump at specific airports and ports of entry.
Texas ACLU officials said the lawsuit would shed new light on how the CBP would carry out the "Muslim ban" enacted by the president.
“President Trump has tried twice before to force his unconstitutional and ham-fisted Muslim ban on the public, and twice the courts have had to remind him that he is not above the law,” said Teri Burke, executive director of the Texas ACLU, in a press release. “CPB’s refusal to comply with our request indicates that not everyone in the Trump Administration got the message. But we will do everything in our power to make sure the CPB respects our laws.”
The CBP comes under the federal umbrella of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.
Mitra Ebadolahi, border litigation project staff attorney for the ACLU in San Diego and Imperial County, California, said the CBP has a long history of ignoring obligations under the FOIA.
“The public has a right to know how federal immigration officials would handle the implementation of the Muslim bans,” he said in a press release.