The federal government’s top immigration enforcement officer says that Houston has fallen short in a nationwide crackdown on violent, predominantly Latino street gangs that draw strength from undocumented immigrants, reports the Houston Chronicle. Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, accounted for just 71 of the 1,759 arrests in the roundup in 53 cities over the past four months, said Julie Myers, the assistant secretary of homeland security in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE. Myers said the reluctance of police departments in cities like Houston and Phoenix to fully cooperate had forced federal immigration authorities to negotiate narrow, targeted enforcement efforts.
Myers held a news conference on the latest results of the Bush administration’s long-running campaign against transnational street gangs such as MS-13 that operate in the U.S., Mexico and Central America. She declined to specify cases where Houston law officers failed to cooperate fully with federal immigration agents in the hard-hitting, federal-state-local enforcement operation dubbed Operation Community Shield. Houston’s arrest count trailed seven other cities nationwide that participated in the gang crackdown, including cities with smaller populations such as Boston, Atlanta, San Diego, and Dallas. The number of arrests in Houston rivaled the 70 tallied in Tampa, Fla., the nation’s 56th-most-populous city.