A group of community activists are calling for the Carrollton Police Department and City Council to end a nearly 10-year-long agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.).
“This is an agreement with I.C.E that’s been in place since 2008,” Carrollton Police spokesperson Jolene DeVito said. “It says that when someone, and only when someone is arrested and taken to jail in Carrollton, we have two specially I.C.E. trained officers in the jail who know how to process and screen that person to check for their immigration status.”
“If it is discovered that there is some question about it, then I.C.E. may be notified,” DeVito explained. “I.C.E. decides from there whether to put the hold on them and then what to do.”
According to I.C.E, there are only 37 law enforcement agencies in 16 states with this agreement and only three in Texas.
The local group, Carrollton Citizens’ Movement, wants this agreement to end. They call it unfair and a waste of taxpayer money.
“We’re not talking super criminals here. We are talking hard working people that have gone too fast on a roadway or made a mistake,” Nolan Adams said. “It’s an unfortunate reality that we’ve taken a stand on.”
Adams and the group said they want the two officers out of the Carrollton jail, but could settle on a level of compromise.
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“Eliminate the wording in the agreement that allows for minor crimes [and] people who have been stopped or accused of minor crimes to be deported. Eliminate that all together,” Adams said. “We need to look at felony crimes and felony crimes only. Those are the crimes that are worth destroying families over. The alternative is to end the agreement all together.”
The Carrollton Police Department cannot end the agreement. It has to be changed by the City Council.
Adams said the group has addressed Carrollton City Council and are willing to take their mission even further.
“There has been no open, professional line of communication that we’ve been allowed access to,” Adams said. “This is our last resort. Developing this organization [and] getting our neighborhoods together has been our last resort.”
“Come 2018 here in Carrollton, City Council is essentially going to be up for grabs,” Adams added. “Our organization intends to promote more minority involvement in politics. That includes getting minority men and women into City Council.”
Carrollton police reiterated that the officers are only in the jail.
“If you don’t get arrested in Carrollton, you don’t have anything to worry about,” DeVito said. “Our officers are not going out looking for people. They are not asking for immigration status at traffic stops.“
In 2016, the jail in Carrollton processed 7,108 total inmates with 780 screened. I.C.E detained 138 people and removed 72.
Carrollton police said the jail also serves Addison and Coppell and people arrested in those cities are also subjected to the screenings.