Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

  1. #1
    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Sheriff defends allowing feds to have office at jail

    Sheriff defends allowing immigration officials to have office at jail
    At public hearing, many in audience, one commissioner fear Hamilton pulling county into enforcement debate.
    By Marty Toohey

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton encountered sharp criticism and some support this afternoon over his decision to allow federal immigration agents to establish an office at the Travis County Jail.

    The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency can detain people who have been arrested if it suspects they are illegal immigrants and wants to have someone performing that vetting around the clock.

    Hamilton, speaking at a public hearing called by the Travis County commissioners, defended the decision, saying the sheriff's office is simply allowing customs officials to have a desk in a facility it visits frequently anyway. He denied the charge that the sheriff's office is enforcing federal immigration law or facilitating racial profiling.

    "I take offense to (critics) saying we're racial profiling," Hamilton said. "This is a public safety issue."

    About 75 people packed the audience chambers, including immigration attorneys and television crews, but not officials from the customs agency. At 4:45 p.m., the commissioners had not finished the hearing and could still vote on whether to recommend Hamilton allow customs officials to have an office in the jail.

    Hamilton said he ultimately has say over jail policy, although the commissioners set his budget and have some control.

    Most people who spoke during the three-hour-plus meeting criticized Hamilton.

    Among the issues of concern were unclear guidelines about whose is questionable enough to detain while their immigration status is investigated and whether people who would otherwise be let out for minor offenses were going to be kept behind bars while immigration offices vet them.

    The main concern was whether the presence of customs officials in the jail signified, or could be interpreted to signify, that Travis County was getting involved in immigration enforcement.

    "This action has had the effect of destroying the relationship you, our county government, have with a large population of the Latino community," said Alberto Garcia, an Austin immigration attorney.

    Some audience members said Hamilton was doing the right thing and needed to cooperate with federal officials.

    "In many cases, these individuals (who are arrested) get a free pass to live here in our generous community and then commit crimes," Brent Munhofen said. "There is no miscarriage of justice" in the arrangement, he said.

    The meeting was heated at times.

    One audience member began his address to the commissioners by saying he was once a migrant worker, and one audience member said loudly, "You're an illegal."

    A third audience member said that was an unfair assumption and offered to settle the disagreement "outside on the street,"
    at which point sheriff's deputies separated the men and escorted them outside the audience chambers. They were later allowed to return.

    Tempers also flared between elected officials.

    Commissioner Margaret Gómez chastised Hamilton for what she saw as his "getting defensive" and his decision not to confer with the commissioners before making a decision, later saying that Hamilton was creeping toward enforcing immigration law.

    "I happen to think that no person from Earth is illegal," she added.

    Hamilton said Gómez was mischaracterizing the arrangement — "I don't know what part of the conversation you didn't hear" — and accused her of politicizing the issue.; 445-3673 ... gjail.html
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Santa Clarita Ca
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts