By LUPE member Sergio Narvaez with additions by John-Michael Torres
Some of our concerns were relieved this past 24th of October when LUPE, along with representatives of the Equal Voice Network met with Mr. Martin Garza, Assistant Chief of Police of Mission to discuss his position with respect to the collaboration between ICE and the local police department.
Garza told us that to his knowledge, Mission PD is not participating in the S-Comm program and that it is the police department’s practice to not report or turn over to ICE any person that is detained by the department. This came as relief, as previously we were worried that Border Patrol visited the jail daily to detain undocumented individuals.
He told us that while the department exercises its discretion against releasing detainees into ICE custody, ICE does come every day to the police department at 7:30am to interview detainees. Once detainees are interviewed by ICE, ICE will put a retainer on the individuals that do not have documents so that in the event that their charges require them to be transferred to County Jail, ICE will have access to them there. However, those individuals that are cleared of charges by Mission judges while in Mission PD custody are released to their family members—not to ICE, as is the case in local jails participating in the S-Comm program.
While we are disappointed that ICE visits local jails daily, we will do everything in our power to reduce the damage of such visits. We are beginning to form a relationship with the department in order to diminish the number of deportations that result from being detained by local police. In our next meeting with Mr. Garza, we will ask about the possibility of issuing tickets instead of detaining individuals whenever possible and in that way avoid a deportation. There have been an increasing number of police and sheriff departments implementing such a policy as they have begun to recognize the damaging effects of participating in the S-Comm program.