Thursday, October 04, 2007
About 2,000 people demonstrated outside Irving City Hall on Wednesday night to demand an end to a police program that's led to a high number of deportations.
Advocates are collecting information about cases where they say police are racially profiling people in order to stop them and verify their immigration paperwork. They asked the crowd to begin calling City Hall on Thursday to tell the mayor to stop the Criminal Alien Program.
Irving started participating in the nationwide program last year. It allows jailers to identify suspected illegal immigrants and refer them to immigration authorities, but the Mexican Consulate and immigration advocates say police are being overzealous while patrolling and trying to stop Latinos in order to arrest them.
Police Chief Larry Boyd denies that police are trying to enforce immigration laws and says they are not targeting specific groups of people. He says the identification of suspected immigrants is happening at the jail, not on the streets.
The Mexican Consulate in Dallas, which covers half of the state of Texas, said that half of the people they have interviewed in the last few weeks who are being deported were arrested in Irving.
There were about a dozen counter-protesters who placed themselves in the middle of the demonstration Wednesday night. After one of several shouting matches erupted between the two groups, police say two people were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges and taken to jail.