Immigration

Report: Harris County Ranks Third In “Secure Communities” Deportations

Texas, and Harris County, have been ground zero for immigration crackdowns, according to a new report.

Harris County ranks third in deportations nationwide through a major immigration enforcement program called “Secure Communities“, according to new data from Syracuse University.

Texas averaged 1,975 deportations per month during the first nine months of fiscal year 2018, more than any other state in the country.

Total deportations in Harris County alone were over 1,800 in that same time frame.

Numbers offer a glimpse at immigration enforcement at a state and county level, but not a complete picture, said Susan Long, director of Syracuse University's TRAC research center, which tracks immigration law enforcement data.

"It would be nice to do this for all ICE removals, but ICE contends it isn't possible," said Long.

She said ICE claims to only track “Secure Communities” data at a county level, those are deportations that have relied on FBI fingerprint data and often involve local law enforcement.

"What we do have are ‘Secure Communities’, which are a very substantial part of ICE removals," said Long.

ICE's “Secure Communities” program facilitates cooperation of local law enforcement with immigration officials. It uses FBI fingerprint data and will detain immigrants until ICE can take them into their custody, even if the immigrant hasn’t yet been convicted of a crime.

Of the 1,861 Harris County “Secure Communities” deportations occurring in the first nine months of fiscal year 2018, 36 percent had been convicted of Level 1 crimes, offenses that include homicide, kidnapping and sexual assault.

The “Secure Communities” program piloted in Harris County during the end of the Bush administration and was ramped up during Obama’s first term.

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Elizabeth Trovall

Elizabeth Trovall

Immigration Reporter

Elizabeth Trovall is an immigration reporter for Houston Public Media. She joined the News 88.7 team after several years abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she reported on business, energy, politics and culture. Trovall's work has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, Latino...

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