August 28, 2008

Local police deploy ICE on illegal alien criminals

Published: 08.28.08

Tomball’s new police chief, Robert Hauck, is having a totally different experience in dealing with illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Hauck previously served in the Los Angeles Police Department before moving to Texas to take over the chief of police job in Tomball. He is familiar with California’s immigration policies which he said kept law enforcement’s hands out of the federal government’s duty to determine who is illegal or not. Others want to “round-up” all illegals and deport them. In Texas, he said, he thinks the state has struck a nice balance.

“When we arrest someone for a crime and we think they my be illegal aliens, we contact ICE (the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement) and they will determine if someone is illegal, and if so, set up deportation procedures,” Hauck said.

Hauck and two other members of his police department, captains Rick Grassi and Rickey Doerre, recently attended a meeting intended to open up the lines of communications between ICE and local law enforcement agencies like Tomball. The meeting was facilitated by Congressman Michael McCaul.

The Dist. 10 Congressman hosted his third meeting between law enforcement authorities in Harris County, who do not have the authority to remove criminal aliens, and ICE, which does have that power, in order to enhance interagency communications.

“It is imperative that cities like Tomball and Katy have the means to remove threats from their communities, especially if they are in this country illegally to begin with,” McCaul said in a written statement.

Too often, the congressman said, police and sheriff’s deputies’s hands are tied when it comes to illegal immigration.

“They need that direct face to face contact with ICE so that any time an illegal is picked up on any charge, even if it’s a misdemeanor, they can be eligible for deportation out of this country,” he said.

Hauck said he doesn’t see any problems in Tomball specifically with illegal aliens, explaining that the focus of his department is on anyone committing crimes.

“Our focus in the meeting was sharing information and passing it on to ICE so they can determine if a detainee needs to be deported,” he said. “From my perspective, the meeting was about developing law enforcement relationships rather than operating independently.”

Hauck said his focus is always on crime in Tomball and not doing the federal government’s job.

“We don’t simply want to put illegal alien criminals in our county or state jails but to pass the information along to ICE,” he said.

Hauck said he found the meeting to be very educational.

If ICE determines a suspect is subject to removal proceeding that fall within its enforcement regulations, ICE may file a detainer which permits local authorities to hold the suspect for up to 48 hours, until ICE agents are able to take custody and begin the deportation process.

Congressman McCaul has hosted meetings between ICE and local authorities throughout his district in an effort to maximize limited federal resources dedicated to enforcing immigration laws.

The Houston ICE office has 35 officers working in 53 counties.

According to McCaul, Houston demands the greatest attention and said smaller communities have been “virtually ignored because of a lack of ICE personnel and inmate housing capacity.”

Nine officers from Harris County Sheriff’s Office recently received federal training allowing them to enforce immigration laws, according to McCaul’s office.

For an example of how open communications between ICE and law enforcement agencies of smaller communities work, the congressman pointed to the city of Katy.

A meeting between ICE and Katy police in April resulted in increased cooperation and combined to deport an illegal immigrant who was previously convicted of a child sex crime in the United States. According to a statement from McCaul’s office, “the relationship has also sent a clear message that Katy is not a ‘sanctuary’ city for illegal immigrants.”

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