Jail Where Sandra Bland Died Is Now Authorized To Detain Immigrants
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has reached an agreement with the Texas jail where Sandra Bland died to target undocumented immigrants.
The sheriff’s office and jail where Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell two years ago has enlisted ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for a new, controversial immigration enforcement program.
Known as 287(g), the program authorizes deputies to act on behalf of ICE to arrest and detain people based on their immigration status. In short, Waller County officials are now given broad powers to deport immigrants who otherwise wouldn’t have been on the radar of federal agents.
Waller County joins 25 other local police agencies in being newly enlisted to enforce federal laws. Prized by Donald Trump, this is a strategy by his administration to localize deportation forces. When Sandra Bland died in 2015, the mysterious circumstances behind her passing stood out as a major flashpoint in the social movement to end racialized police violence. The Waller County Jail was required to revamp its protocols and provide additional medical care, but with major problems still persisting, it seems that this new initiative with ICE may become very problematic.
Not all police departments will be allowed to enter 287(g) partnerships, but you can only imagine how angry immigration advocates are going to be when this grows into a thing. ICE officials will not say which agencies are under consideration for 287(g), nor how deeply their records are picked apart before they’re approved. “There is little oversight and accountability over how these agreements happen,” says Astrid Dominguez, a policy strategist with the ACLU of Texas. “In places like Waller County, where they don’t have the best track record, this impacts not just immigrants, but also communities of color.”
Activists are rightfully concerned that the program’s loaded background won’t help Waller County’s strained relationships between police and people of color, particularly after Bland’s death. Many will be watching as this controversial program gets off the ground.