Texas Gov. Rick Perry and members of the state congressional delegation have called on the federal government to help state and local officials ensure that illegal immigrants who commit crimes in Texas remain in custody until they are deported, reports the Houston Chronicle. Perry wrote to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff he was outraged to learn that many convicted illegal immigrants in Texas jails were released after they completed their jail sentences instead of being deported.
In a series this week, the Chronicle outlined gaps in the screening of inmates in local jails that allowed scores of violent criminals, including some ordered deported decades ago, to walk away from Harris County Jail despite the inmates’ admission to Harris County jailers that they were in the country illegally. The Chronicle examined arrest and immigration records for 3,500 inmates who told jailers that they were in the country illegally during a span of eight months starting in June 2007, the earliest immigration records available. In 177 cases reviewed by the Chronicle, inmates who were released from jail after admitting to being in the country illegally later were charged with additional crimes. Harris County’s newly elected district attorney, Pat Lykos, said the federal Immigation and Customs Enforcement agency needs to be in the Harris County courthouse “24-7” and improve screening of illegal immigrants so prosecutors have more reliable information when making bond recommendations and considering plea agreements.