A recent protest against the Travis County sheriff’s office’s participation in Secure Communities has focused attention on this misguided program.
The latest episode, which ended in the arrest of six people, is part of ongoing community opposition to the program. Through Secure Communities, the sheriff’s office shares biometric data — name, age, birthdate, etc — with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE then runs this information through federal databases and issues a detainer for any person whom the agency suspects may be deportable. A detainer is a request to continue detention for an additional 48 hours after the person would otherwise be released from Travis County custody to allow ICE to transfer him or her to ICE custody. This extended incarceration does not include holidays and weekends and, therefore, individuals frequently remain in the Travis County Jail for even longer than 48 hours.
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Hines is a clinical professor of law and co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law.