Saturday, February 02, 2008

Conflicting and poisoned data on crime and Immigration has been presented to Texas legistators from Anti Immigrants groups (C.I.S). It's time to look for real solutions to a real problems not to skewed numbers to fit their political and Anti Immigrant Agenda.

A public hearing Friday on immigrants in Texas jails and prisons shed light on holes in the criminal justice pipelines, state and local, and the lack of information on the legal status of those behind bars.

The Texas House on corrections and the Committee on County Affairs held the all-day hearing at the University of Texas at Dallas to attempt to determine:
Whether the state has a problem in the prison system.
What the dividing line is between state and federal authorities.
The cost for people who are arrested and charged with felonies and convicted of felonies.
Whether state agencies are coordinating with one another.

More than 200 people turned out Friday. And as expected, emotions ran high on illegal immigration and alleged racial profiling of Hispanics, amid readings of statistics and contradictory reports.

Some even questioned why the hearing – the first of several around the state – was held.
Others urged legislators not to be soft on crime committed by those in the U.S. illegally.

"Texas legislators must step up and become more accountable," said Jean Towell, president and co-founder of Dallas-based Citizens for Immigration Reform. Those in the U.S. illegally who have committed nonviolent crimes should not be given early release and they should be deported as well, Ms. Towell said.

Legislators were presented with two contradictory studies on crime and immigration. One study, co-authored by Ruben Rumbaut of the University of California at Irvine, looked at incarceration rates among young men and showed those rates to be the lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated.

Another, authored by Carl Horowitz, of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., research center, said that criminal gangs with ties to immigrant communities are a problem "understated" in crime statistics and that immigrants are less likely to report crime, according to a presentation by one speaker.
Taking a break after six hours of testimony, Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, said that there are problems in the notification of federal immigration officials and problems in getting documentation on the foreign-born.
"So that is clearly one of the areas we will look at," said Mr. Madden, chairman of the Texas House Corrections Committee.
The Texas Legislature meets in regular session every other year; its next regular session will begin in January 2009.

At least one state lawmaker was troubled by the hearing altogether.
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston and a member of the House County Affairs Committee, questioned whether his colleagues were using the issue to gain political leverage.
"I would rather that you arrest a guy who is a murderer ... than a person over here who is trying to find work," he told his fellow legislators.
Mr. Coleman said that he believed the hearing wouldn't have been held if the discussion focused on Irish immigrants.

Outside the university chamber hall, Mr. Coleman said there was a distinction between criminal law and immigration law, and that arresting people on immigration violations wasted resources.
Illegal immigrants are being deported when caught for Class C misdemeanors, such as traffic violations
, Mr. Coleman said.
"It's not about black people anymore," he said. "It's about gays, Mexican-Americans and Latin Americans."

Speaker after speaker addressed procedures by local police and county probation officers.
Repeatedly, they raised the role of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is the prime agency authorized to place a hold on those held at a jail or state prison or on probation, speakers noted.
"Why aren't they here?" asked state Rep. Jim McReynolds, D-Lufkin.
A spokesman for ICE, Carl Rusnok, said Homeland Security policy prohibits ICE from testifying at state hearings. But he added that ICE "makes every effort to ensure that state legislators have information about ICE and our operations."
Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said that of the 155,000 prisoners in the Texas Prison System, about 6 percent to 7 percent are foreign-born. But it is ICE's job to determine the citizenship status of those foreign-born inmates and whether they are in the U.S. legally, he said.

Within the more than 200 jails in Texas, statistical record-keeping is not as precise.
Adan Muñoz, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, said there were no definitive numbers on the foreign-born or the percentage of illegal immigrants in local jails.
State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, repeatedly questioned whether lines are blurred even further during arrests and even during ICE holds. Mr. Alonzo said he knew of a case in which a U.S. citizen was placed on an ICE hold.
Some in the audience were pleased by stepped-up law enforcement by local authorities.
Sue Richardson, a leader of a Republican club in Irving, praised the collaboration of Irving police with ICE in a program known as the Criminal Alien Program, or CAP.
"Never lose sight of the fact that you're to protect citizens of state, not illegal aliens," she said.
Authorities have to do something about the drug traffickers and terrorists living illegally in the country, she said, prompting a member of the committee to ask how many of the illegal immigrants in Irving are drug dealers or terrorists.
"I don't know what they are
," she said. "You'd have to ask our police

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