August 24, 2008

Police to deport criminal alien

Congressman Michael McCaul stops by Katy to commend the cooperation between the Katy Police Department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement leading to the scheduled deportation of a criminal illegal immigrant. (Times photo Tracy Dang)

BY Tracy Dang

Times Managing Editor

Katy police are removing a criminal illegal immigrant from the streets, an effort made possible by an improved working relationship with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officials said during a press conference at the police department Wednesday morning.

The agencies are processing the deportation of an alien who was previously convicted of a child sex crime. Officials are withholding his name because he was prosecuted as a juvenile when he committed the crime in 1994.

Katy police had arrested the illegal immigrant “numerous times” for misdemeanor charges. Once in jail, police determined he was the same individual committing the sex-related crimes.

“We received numerous complaints against the criminal,” Chief Robert Frazier said. “He was known to expose himself and hang around parks and public places where children would be.”

However, the charges were not severe enough to keep him off the streets.

“He was just a daily nuisance,” Frazier said. “He created a problem, but he wasn’t the felony type.”

A court order filed against the city several years ago prevented local police from enforcing immigration laws, coining Katy’s image as a “sanctuary city.”

But a phone call from Katy Mayor Don Elder Jr. to U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul led to a face-to-face meeting between the two law enforcement agencies.

ICE filed a detainer allowing local authorities to hold a suspect for up to 48 hours until agents were able to take custody and begin the removal process.

“The big thing we were concerned about was the criminal effect of it,” Elder said. “We did not want illegal immigrants committing crimes and affecting our taxpayers.”

With 35 agents working at the Houston ICE office to serve 53 counties including Harris County, McCaul said smaller communities like Katy were “virtually ignored because of a lack of ICE personnel and inmate housing capacity.”

“(Illegal immigrants committing crimes) is a threat that is unacceptable, and deportation is the right remedy,” McCaul said. “Coordination with ICE is the difference here, and Katy was part of where it really needed to happen.

“Today, we are sending a message loud and clear that Katy is no longer a sanctuary city for criminal aliens,” McCaul said. “If you are here illegally and you commit a crime, you will be prosecuted and deported.”

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?