Willacy Co. Sheriff Approached to Participate in ICE Program

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RAYMONDVILLE – A Rio Grande Valley sheriff said the government asked him to join a program that allows local police to also be immigration officers.

The 11-year-old program is called 287(G) and other police departments in the country are already participating. ICE said it helps them be in more places at once.

ICE wants to expand the program into the Valley.

The DHS memo went out Monday and inside the DHS secretary said it’s time to expand 287(G). An ICE officer paid a visit to the Willacy County Sheriff’s Office this week.

“They’re trying to get mostly jail staff people to do that,” Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said.

He said ICE asked him if he wanted to enroll one of his jail staff. The program states certain local officers can be trained and permitted to “perform immigration law enforcement functions.”

Spence said essentially his jailer would have more access to information not available right now.

“They’ll have access to information ICE has. And they can research on each different inmate and have a better idea of what they have here, and their immigration status,” he said.

Three of the 30 law enforcement agencies taking part in 287(G) are in Texas. The participating agencies are listed as “jail enforcement function”

Spence said it’s mostly database-type work, not so much street enforcement.

“It’s not like going out and stopping somebody, ‘Let me see your papers,’ or something like that, no,” he said.

ICE said training and participation helps them be more places at once. Spence said the budget at his department is tight.

“It’s like a four-week training they would have to go through,” he said.

He can’t spare to send that jailer to the federal training.

“Perhaps be interested later, but right now, there’s just no way we can do it,” the sheriff said.

Spence said he declined the offer from ICE.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS will begin reaching out to other law enforcement agencies and see if they will be participating in the program.


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