The Houston Police Department will not participate in a controversial immigration screening program, ending a months-long saga over the city’s plans, the Houston Chronicle reports. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had designated this past week as the national deadline for agencies to sign recently revamped agreements to participate in the federal government’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to act as immigration agents.
On Friday, ICE officials released a list of the 55 agencies that had signed formal agreements. A dozen agencies had reached agreements with ICE, but still were awaiting approval from their governing bodies to sign off on the partnerships. The Houston Police Department was on a short list of a half-dozen agencies that either withdrew from negotiations or did not re-sign agreements with ICE. Mayor Bill White, who is running for the U.S. Senate, has said ICE officials were “bureaucratic” in the negotiations, and appeared to be shying away from the program. White would prefer the city participate in another ICE program, Secure Communities, which gives local law enforcement access to a massive immigration database to check suspects’ immigration history.