On Thursday, June 26, Austin city council members unanimously passed a resolution to oppose Travis County's participation in Secure Communities. Secure Communities, or S-Comm, is a federal program through which immigrants can be detained in local jails like the Travis County Jail until Immigration and Customs Encorcement (ICE) can take them into custody. The resolution is sponsored by council members Laura Morrison, Mike Martinez and mayor pro-tem Sheryl Cole. No one offered opposing remarks on this resolution.
Immigrant advocates rejoiced last week as a wave of counties said they would no longer comply with ICE holds (also called detainers) issued under the "Secure Communities" (S-Comm) program. Sheriffs in 31 counties in Oregon, 10 in Colorado and at least 4 in Washington announced the policy shift, citing concerns that ICE holds violate Constitutional rights and expose local governments to legal liability.
The Washington Post reported on April 29 that this development comes after recent court decisions in Oregon and Pennsylvania that found ICE holds are requests, not commands, and that local law enforcement is not required to honor them. Consequently, sheriffs and counties could be liable for any constitutional violations resulting from local law enforcement holding a person for ICE.
Immigrant advocates have long argued that detainers issued under the S-Comm program from ICE are merely requests, and that honoring ICE detainers are violations of due process.
Grassroots Leadership has been part of an on-going campaign to stop compliance with S-Comm and ICE holds in Travis County, Texas. The question on the minds of immigrants and advocates in Texas is: When will local governments in the Lone Star State join this quickly growing list?
On Thursday, April 10, President Barack Obama will attend a meeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in Austin, Texas, along with three former U.S. Presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the event's organizers said on Monday. The Civil Rights Summit, slated from Tuesday to Thursday, is organized by the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.
During the week-long South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, 19 people will be deported from Austin.
Travis County, and especially Austin, often holds itself out to be a progressive and welcoming community tucked into an otherwise very conservative state. We even take in hundreds of thousands of y’all during SXSW![node:read-more:link]
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton says it all comes down to one word: “shall.”
Hamilton has been tweeting in response to our coverage of a letter from ICE Acting Director Daniel H. Ragsdale in which Ragsdale clarifies that immigration detainers are “are not mandatory as a matter of law.”
Hamilton has been a vocal supporter of complying with ICE detainer requests. He has called detainers “mandatory” and “the law.” After reading about the letter from Ragsdale, the Sheriff changed his tune... but only slightly.[node:read-more:link]
On February 22, 2014, Grassroots Leadership, the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and supporters hosted a candidates forum at Faith Presbyterian Church. More than 200 people attended, comprised of members of the immigrant community, advocates, people of faith and other community members. Brigid Shea, Richard Jung, and Garry Brown, all of whom are vying for the Precinct 2 County Commission seat, were in attendance. Andy Brown and Sarah Eckhardt, both of whom are running for Travis Count Judge, also attended. Each candidate addressed the community's concerns and offered methods by which they, if elected, would ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers are no longer honored in Travis County.[node:read-more:link]
People have been saying for years that there is a deportation crisis in Travis County, Texas, fueled by the federal S-Comm (Secure Communities) program in the jail.
New data released Tuesday shows just how bad things have gotten. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, over the last two years ICE and Sheriff Greg Hamilton have been particularly busy rounding up Austin-area residents.
From 2013-2014, ICE placed a total of 5,507 “holds” on individuals in Travis County Jail. A hold is a request from the federal government that the jail “hold” someone for two extra days so that ICE can come investigate. The cause for ICE’s investigation can be very flimsy. For example, if they don’t have the fingerprints on record and the individual just happens to have a Hispanic last name. It’s no small wonder they have issued thousands of holds here.[node:read-more:link]
Contact: Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership, (512) 971-0487, blibal@
For Immediate Release: August 9th, 2011
Travis County Groups Deliver Letter Opposing Controversial Immigration Enforcement Program
Coalition Calls for Halt to Secure Communities Program at Dallas Task Force Hearings
Austin, Texas - A coalition of 18 Travis County civil and human rights groups today will deliver a letter to a Department of Homeland Security Task Force meeting calling for the termination of the controversial immigration enforcement program "Secure Communities." A PDF of the letter is available here. [node:read-more:link]