On February 21, 2017, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez terminated the Memorandum of Agreement between the county and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed under the federal agency’s 287(g) program. The 287(g) program allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.
Despite the sheriff’s decision, ICE officials will continue to come to the local jail to screen jail inmates to determine their immigration statuses and Gonzalez said the county would hold any person at ICE’s request regardless of the criminal charge he or she may be facing. Any immigrant who is arrested or even suspected of a criminal offense will want to make sure he or she immediately retain legal counsel for help avoiding possible damaging effects on his or her resident status.
Are you or your loved one an immigrant who was recently arrested in Harris County? Do not say anything to the police without first contacting The Gonzalez Law Group.
Our Houston criminal defense attorneys aggressively defend clients in the greater Harris County area including Pearland, Baytown, Seabrook, La Porte, Pasadena, Galena Park, Friendswood and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 right now to have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Immigration Consequences of Arrests in Harris County
Immigration Holds in Texas
United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form I-247 is an Immigration Detainer- Notice of Action more commonly known as an “ICE Hold.” When DHS learns that a foreign national is in state or federal custody, the agency may issue an ICE Hold (commonly referred to as an immigration hold or immigration detainer) that requires the immigrant to be held up to 48 hours past the time he or she would have otherwise been released in order for ICE to take custody.
One of the most common reasons that immigration holds are placed on alleged offenders is possible concerns about a person being in the country illegally. In other cases, the alleged offender may be an immigrant who is suspected of a crime that may make him or her deportable.
ICE will generally transfer an alleged offender to its nearest Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office. People can take action in federal courts when ICE fails to take custody within 48 hours of an immigration hold being ordered, although the agency generally responds to any issues relating to failure to take custody by immediately taking custody.
Immigration Bonds in Texas
An immigration bond hearing is similar to the traditional bail hearing in criminal courts, but there are some important differences. An immigrant may not be entitled to bond if he or she is subject to the mandatory detention provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Under INA § 236.1/(c), the Attorney General must take into custody any alien who:
- is inadmissible by reason of having committed any offense covered in INA § 212(a)(2) (crimes of moral turpitude and drug offenses);
- is deportable by reason of having committed any offense covered in INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(ii) , (A)(iii), (B), (C), or (D) (espionage offenses);
- is deportable under INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(i) on the basis of an offense for which the alien was sentenced to at least one year in prison; or
- is inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(3)(B) or deportable under INA § 237(a)(4)(B), when the alien is released, without regard to whether the alien is released on parole, supervised release, or probation, and without regard to whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for the same offense.
INA § 236.1/(a)(2) establishes that the Attorney General can release an alien on bond of at least $1,500 with security approved by, and containing conditions prescribed by, the Attorney General or conditional parole, but cannot provide the alien with work authorization unless the alien is lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise would be provided such authorization. It is important to keep in mind that $1,500 is the minimum bond, and bond amounts can often be set much higher.
Immigrant Arrest Resources in Harris County
Sheriff Gonzalez Ends Program That Transfers Undocumented Immigrants To Government — View the February 22 Houston Public Media article about the Harris County Sheriff’s decision to end the 287(g) program. You can view the full text of the sheriff’s letter. According to the article, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office had two deputies and seven detention officers working on the 287(g) program, and it was costing the agency over $600,000 a year.
Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS) — The ODLS is a public system that allows family members, legal representatives, and members of the public to locate immigration detainees in ICE detention. You can conduct a search by Alien Registration Number (A-Number) and country of birth, or by last name, first name, and country of birth. The ODLS does not provide location information about every person in ICE custody.
Defense Attorneys for Immigrant Arrests in Houston, TX
If you or your loved one is an immigrant who was recently arrested in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have legal representation before making any statement to authorities. The Gonzalez Law Group represents individuals throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown and many others.
Our lawyers in Houston can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (832) 530-4070 or complete an online contact form to receive a free initial consultation.