By Nolan Adams, NDG Special Contributor
The winds of change are sweeping through the streets of Carrollton, whipping and lashing against the doors of city hall. On the night of July 11, those doors finally gave way to a tsunami of pro-immigrant activists. They filled the seats of city hall for one reason (surprisingly, it was not to demand lower property taxes). They assembled to demand Carrollton’s mayor and council put an end to the city’s agreement with Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE). They were armed with a sense of unity, knowledge, and passion. I was proud to participate; I was even more proud to see the most diverse council meeting in Carrollton’s history. This is the story of the w, local politics, the communities living in fear — and attempts to fix it.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 made 287(g) agreements available to cities, counties, and other local entities. Since 2008, the agreement has been widely criticized. In 2011, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation of Maricopa County, Arizona after they noticed a surge in racial profiling complaints related to the county’s 287(g). That was the beginning of the end for Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
The agreement reached its peak in 2008, with over 70 participating jurisdictions nationwide. Most of those jurisdictions have since exited agreement, in lieu of more effective programs like as Secure Communities. In 2010, the Office of Audit Services (OIG) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a scathing (for an OIG audit) 94-page report, complete with 33 aspects of the program that needed improvement. The program aspects in need of improvement included “Training Does Not Fully Prepare Officers for Immigration Enforcement Duties” and “The Use of Interpreters Is Inconsistent”, as well its potential for civil rights violations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed with the OIG and GAO on all but one of the recommendations.
The 287(g) agreement delegates federal immigration authority to a number of jail officials employed with the Carrollton Police Department. Critics, including myself, argue the agreement damages the relationship between communities and police and encourages police departments to participate in racial profiling. Many would agree with this claim. According to Carrollton Police spokesperson Jolene DeVito, police calls for service dropped to record lows after the agreement was publicized — but only from the precinct known for having a large immigrant population. Even Carrollton Police Department’s annual racial-profiling reports establish a clear pattern of racial profiling.
The ACLU has urged Carrollton to end the agreement, noting “Carrollton sits in a region that has a history of hostility towards the immigrant community. . . Historically, Carrollton’s mayor, city council members, and state representative have supported anti-immigrant measures locally and at the state legislature . . . The Hispanic community continues to be underrepresented in various aspects of local government, including in the police force – where only 10 percent of the police force is part of a minority group, in comparison to 56 percent of the total community.”
If Carrollton had responsive leadership, the agreement would be put up to vote by the mayor and voted out by the council. Mayor Kevin Falconer, however, has refused to follow through with his campaign promise and has not put the 287(g) up to a council vote. He has not even placed the agreement on the agenda for discussion. This is a continuation of the city’s lengthy history of ignoring its minority constituents concerns.
Next week, we will look at the recent Carrollton City Council meeting which featured a spirited debate on the city’s 287(g) agreement.
Nolan Adams is the Founder of Carrollton Citizens’ Movement