ICE proposes new technology to enforce immigration law

By Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

GALVESTON, Texas - Galveston County is working on a possible new partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify inmates who may be in the country illegally.

“It’s not an immigration issue, it’s a criminal issue,” said Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset. “When someone is brought to jail we want to determine who they are and make sure that is them.”

Trochesset said ICE reached out to him about two weeks ago about setting up a computer system that would link with their database. It’s part of the 287(g) program.  It would help screen inmates and see if they’re wanted for any other crimes.

“Anytime someone is arrested and they come to our facility through booking, through classification, we try to determine who they are, what they’re status is,” said Trochesset. “We don’t want to allow someone who maybe a criminal or wanted in another area, county state, to be released.”

He said typically they’ll have to call ICE to assist them in that situation. Agents will then interview the person, hold them in a cell until they're cleared according to Trochesset.  He believes the computer system will expedite that process.

“And If this is going to expedite that process to make our job easier, then I look forward to working with them,” said Trochesset.

Earlier this week he brought the proposal to the Galveston County Commissioners Court, where they voted 4-1 to go through to the next process. County Commissioner Stephen Holmes with Precinct 3 voted against it.

Trochesset said he brought it before the commissioners to get their approval just in case there will need to be any  type of internet lines installed. He said ultimately, it’s up the feds to make the decision to go through with the computer system.

He told commissioners that the federal government would pick up the tab to train employees and for the system.

Trochesset said he knows there will be people who will object to the program, but said he thinks the program is a good idea to be efficient.

“We’re not going out into the community to do roundups to pick people up if we see somebody on the side of the road  or in front of a store to find out what they’re status may be,” said Trochesset.  “Again this is only, and even ICE said this, only within our jail facility. If you’re arrested for a criminal offense to be brought to our jail and we’ll go from there.”

Trochesset said there’s currently no timeline for when this system would be in place, it’s up to the feds.

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