The Mexican Consulate in Texas, which has been at war with Irving city officials over their crackdown on illegal aliens, says it now wants to send mobile units into the city to deliver identification cards to try to save the illegals from arrest.
“If they have the card, their chances of not being arrested would improve dramatically,” Consul Enrique Hubbard Urrea told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
He said if police are provided information about a person’s identification, they often can just issue a citation, but if there’s no ID, suspects more likely are arrested.
Irving Mayor Herbert Gears told the newspaper the ID cards probably wouldn’t make that much difference in the city’s crackdown. But he did say he would meet periodically with Urrea to review any complaints over the city’s Criminal Alien Program.
“Nothing has been changed in regards to police policy and procedure,” he told the newspaper.
City residents have been raising complaints about illegal aliens in their city for some time. At the beginning of 2007, a petition with 800 signatures was submitted to the city in support of citizen demands that illegal immigrants who commit crimes be monitored more closely.
The city’s effort identifies suspected illegal immigrants in the city’s jail and refers them to federal authorities for a review of their immigration status, and consideration for deportation.
Authorities report more than 1,600 illegal aliens, mostly Mexicans, have been handed over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a little over a year.
Gears told the newspaper that a consular card might provide the identification people need to present to police when they are involved in a traffic stop or other circumstance in which police need to determine who people are. But he said such ID will not exempt anyone from arrest for other reasons.
He told the newspaper he recently had met with Urrea and a contingent of Hispanic activists about their allegations that the program unfairly persecutes Hispanics. The mayor said every complaint so far about racial profiling has been found to be unsubstantiated.
Still, he said, they continue to come in, and will continue to be investigated.
“They might have no merit; I don’t know,” he told the newspaper. “I get these complaints, and I am under pressure to do something about it… I have to assume that what my people are telling me is true.”
But the newspaper report noted only 9 percent of the suspected illegal immigrants taken to jail were charged with not having a driver’s license, meaning even if they had been able to identify themselves sufficiently for police on the scene there would have been little difference in the overall arrests.
The city program has been targeted for complaints nearly since it was begun. ICE officials confirm Irving turns over more people to them than any other law enforcement organization in the region.
In the last month, 170 illegal aliens have been arrested by Irving authorities and turned over to ICE, while the next-highest total comes from the Dallas County sheriff’s office, at 100. The Collin County sheriff was third at 76, followed by Grand Prairie police with 57 and Garland police with 56.
The Dallas Morning News earlier reported that parents whose legal status makes them fear police were withdrawing children from public schools in Irving because of their worries over deportation.
School Supt. Jack Singley said recently that 90 children were taken out of the school district in a single week.
At that point the Mexican Consulate began warning Mexicans to stay away from Irving. About 1,000 mostly Hispanic protesters staged a rally at Irving City Hall, to no avail.
“If they’re not being booked into our jail, there’s nothing they should be worried about,” Gears said. The city’s residents had demanded action because of the burden they felt illegal aliens placed on social services and public schools.
The city’s program, called a “partnership” with ICE, is targeting “criminals” in the community.
“Under the program, Irving police notify federal officials if they have arrested someone who may be in the country illegally. If ICE makes a request, the prisoner is released into their custody,” the city’s website says.
Of the hundreds arrested and turned over, “many of these individuals have been arrested for serious crimes including homicide, sexual assault, indecency, endangering a child or driving while intoxicated,” the city said. “If they were in the United States illegally, these criminals were ordered deported by federal officials, removing them as a threat to Irving.”
Police Chief Larry Boyd has said there is no targeted group.
“Rather, it focuses on people who have flaunted the laws that we all must obey,” he said. Besides Mexico, deportees have been returned to France, Guatemala, India, Israel, Scotland, South Korea and Sudan.
But he also said the only time an individual’s legal status is questioned is when that person cannot provide proper identification or they are arrested for a serious crime. “Irving police officers make no attempt to determine a person’s immigration status while performing their normal law enforcement functions,” he said.
“U.S. immigration policy is a complex issue that must be resolved at the federal level,” said Gears. “Protecting our community from sex offenders, burglars, drunk drivers and other criminals is a local issue. The 24/7 CAP is helping to bridge that gap and accomplish an important goal.”