|Across the nation, cities like Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington D.C, have put a halt to their city's S-Comm program. Officials in these cities cited a refusal to consent Homeland Security to federalize their city's police forces, unjustly fueling the deportation machine by feeding it contributing members of their local communities.
Furthermore, a recent Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision stated compliance by local officials with ICE is not mandatory. In fact, federal programs like S-Comm actually violate the 10th Amendment.
The S-Comm program is one of the policies currently being reevaluated by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
According to Amelia Ruiz-Fischer, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, "Seventy-three percent of people held in this Travis County Jail with detainees held for ICE had no criminal convictions." Since undocumented residents cannot legally obtain a driver's license in the state of Texas, many find themselves detained after minor traffic violations, and are then held for ICE for deportation.
Efforts to end S-Comm in Travis Co. were met with a disappointing response by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, who announced in a press conference last Wednesday he would not change the way undocumented residents are handled at the Travis County Jail. His decision came despite his word when running for re-election in 2012 to end the program if this was confirmed not to be mandatory.
Hamilton was asked by a voter his stance on S-Comm during a 2012 sheriff candidates' forum: "If the County Attorney or District Attorney were to confirm that honoring requests for ICE detainers were not mandatory, would you stop honoring these requests?"
His response was simply "yep."
During last week's press conference, Sheriff Greg Hamilton stated he is aware of the court's decision, but that his decision to continue to enforce S-Comm policy will not change. No matter what he said when running for re-election. No matter if Travis County can opt-out from this abusive deportation program.
Immigration advocates are having to shift their focus to members of the Travis County Commissioners Court and the Austin City Council. These bodies have control of the budget, and are able decide if Travis Co. taxpayers' money continues to go to holding undocumented residents for ICE. $106.05 dollars per day is the cost to hold someone in the Travis County Jail for them to then face deportation by ICE.
Travis Co. BOR readers can make a difference.
It is important to note here that Sheriff Greg Hamilton is an elected official. If you are a voter in Travis Co. who does not wish to see your taxpayer's money continue to fund this non-mandatory, abusive deportation program, you can contact the sheriff at (512) 854-9788 or email at Greg.email@example.com.
You can also contact your County Commissioner or Council member and let them know not to fund S-Comm.
If you or someone you know has been personally impacted by the S-Comm policy and would like to share your story, please contact Cristina Parker from Grassroots Leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org.