Houston’s Harris County Sheriff’s Office has stopped issuing “non-arrest” bonds to illegal immigrants, closing what victim advocates called a loophole that allowed some suspects to dodge deportation, reports the Houston Chronicle. The new policy was implemented on Aug. 22, the same day the Chronicle published a story on an illegal immigrant accused of causing a crash that killed three people while he was free on a non-arrest bond.
Jail officials had been allowing suspects with outstanding warrants for certain relatively minor crimes to pay “non-arrest” bonds without being formally booked. Crime victims advocates complained that allowed illegal immigrants to avoid contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. ICE issued said the new policy “will improve the opportunity for ICE to identify removable aliens.” Now, suspects who are not U.S. citizens still will be able to make bail, but no longer will be eligible for “non-arrest” bonds. More than 4,600 county inmates admitted to being illegal immigrants and had their cases referred to ICE in the year ending last month.