The Smith County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Immigration Customs Enforcement in a program that will allow the office to hold ICE detainees in the Smith County Jail.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said he met with an ICE official on Friday and was informed the office was accepted the into agency’s 287 (g) Delegation of Authority Program.
The 287(g) program, one of ICE's top partnership initiatives, allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement, to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions, according to the agency’s website.
ICE is the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, and is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws as part of its homeland security mission, the agency’s website also states.
“We will be able to hold their detainees for them whether they are apprehended in Upshur or Gregg counties or wherever else,” Darrell Coslin, Smith County public information officer, said. “We are not going to be doing any enforcement activities for ICE. This (agreement) is to process and handle their detainees while they are here in our facility.”
The next steps will be for the sheriff’s office to select five to six detention officers to attend the ICE Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. Coslin said the officers will be learning how to process and handle paperwork related to ICE detainees.
Preparations are being made between the Smith County information technology department and ICE to install fingerprint equipment in the Smith County Jail, which will be connected to the ICE fingerprint database-another system the selected officers will learn to operate.