Updated: 3/1/2012 at 12:10 p.m.
"Show me what democracy looks like!"
"This is what democracy looks like!"
A small group of people belonging to Houston United staged a protest in front of Sheriff Adrian Garcia's office.
Garcia continues to support the 287(g) program, even as the president’s proposed budget would trim funding of its use in smaller locales around the country. 287(g) is the portion of federal immigration law that deputizes local law enforcement to check the immigration status of those in custody.
Maria Jiminez is with Houston United.
"We feel that there's enough evidence to show that these programs damage communities and so, we wanted to put those concerns before the sheriff, and ask him to desist from this effort to give credibility to the 287(g) program."
She claims the law empowers local law enforcement — trained by federal immigration authorities — to intercept, interview and hold foreigners, who are suspected of being in this country illegally.
"Our concerns deal with the fact that 287(g) has been a very harmful program to communities."
Alan Bernstein is with Sheriff Garcia's office. He says the policy under question is standard operating procedure.
"Every one of the 120, 000 inmates or so, who are booked through the front doors of the Harris County Jail, and released out the back door in the space of a year, gets some kind of screening, concerning their legal immigration status or country of origin."
Berstein says that the legal status of anyone in custody is determined by ICE, and only after their local case has been completed. He adds that Garcia will discuss the group's concerns at a meeting with them on Monday.