August 13, 2008

Debate continues over Travis Co. jail, ICE

8/13/2008 12:48 PM
By: News 8 Austin Staff

The City of Austin's Commission on Immigrant Affairs will join the debate on whether ICE should remain at the Travis County jail.

The commission is considering a draft resolution on the issue.

The draft proposes ways for misdemeanor offenders to avoid jail time and in turn stay out of ICE's reach.

Jail records show the number of people detained for immigration purposes has increased 400 percent since ICE opened an office in the jail January.

Critics said immigrants have lost trust in local police as a result.

The Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, Ramey Ko said it will require people within the immigrant community to reach out and become involved in order to have a safer community.

"When people within the immigrant community are confident and feel safe in approaching law enforcement to report crimes, be witnesses to crimes, provide information about crimes, then you really have a lot safer community as a result," he said.

He said when there's a concern that interacting with law enforcement is going to lead to some sort of negative immigration consequence, then people can be reluctant to get involved with law enforcement.

The city's Human Rights Commission passed an identical resolution in June.

The Commission on Immigrant Affairs will discuss it at their meeting Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Austin City Hall.

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