June 18, 2019
Earlier today the Tarrant County Commissioners Court voted to continue the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), known as 287(g), between the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) and the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
287(g) is a voluntary program that authorizes TCSO personnel to perform certain immigration enforcement functions. Non-participation in the program is not breaking the law. In fact, with or without the 287(g) MOA the TCSO still cooperates with the federal government and other agencies when it comes to enforcing immigration holds and with or without the program ICE would still have a presence in our county jail system.
I take seriously my sworn oath to perform the duties of my office to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, the laws of our country and our state. It is in performing my duties that my office inquired about the effectiveness of the 287(g) MOA’s implementation since the original adoption in June 2017, prior to my time serving on the Court.
These questions were related to the program’s costs, legal implications, honoring the original intent of the law the program is based on, reviewing how possible unintended consequences of this program are being mitigated, and the use of available tools to ensure that affected stakeholders in our community are engaged in the program’s implementation process. Unfortunately, while these questions were asked of the TCSO, many remain unanswered.
As the governing body of the county, the Commissioners Court has a responsibility to ask and reasonably expect answers to questions related to the use of tax payer dollars, our agreements with other law enforcement agencies and the functioning of our county criminal justice system.
As the implementing body, the TCSO has the burden of proof to substantiate the effectiveness of this program and was given sufficient time to provide information that would assist the Court in making its final determination on renewal of the 287(g) MOA.
Based off of the information that was provided and in an effort to ensure accountability and transparency when voting on policies that directly impact all constituents, I voted against the renewal of the 287(g) MOA’s one year extension.
Public safety, support of our law enforcement officers, and ensuring an individual’s constitutional rights are upheld are all priorities for my office. Working with any level of government to see that dangerous and violent offenders are kept from doing harm to our community is a priority.
And with Tarrant County being one of the fastest growing counties in our nation with a diverse population, I trust that we can implement policies that serve to create a safer community, but not at the expense of historically marginalized communities who are also constituents of this county and have the same expectation of protection and safety that we all share.
Thank you to everyone who over the last few months have emailed, called and attended Court to provide public comment on this matter. This level of participation is one I have not seen from the community in my almost six months serving on the Court. This issue is not going away, and there are other issues at the local level that could use this same level of engagement and input. I welcome the opportunity to visit with you about them.
Download a copy here: Commissioner Devan Allen Statement on 287(g)
County Telephone Operator 817-884-1111
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