Smith County Cracks Down On Illegal Immigrants In Our Jails - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/12/2008-Smith Co.

Smith County Cracks Down On Illegal Immigrants In Our Jails

If Smith County officials get their way, illegal immigrants may be going back to where they came from after they commit a crime. KLTV 7 first told you about a meeting with local and federal leaders to implement a new policy to help turn over criminals who are in this country illegally.

They are going to be asking more questions, and hoping to be told no lies.

Starting in the next few weeks more pointed questions will be asked of criminals being booked into the Smith County Jail.

"They are going to be asked certain quiestions. If there is even an issue of their status here illegal or legal," said Judge Floyd Getz.

Smith County Court At Law Judge Getz says authorities will then call immigration services who will conduct a phone interview to determine if they are here illegally and if so place a hold on them.

"When they are finished with their business here in Smith County we will notify immigration enforcement and they have 48 hours during business week to come and pick them up," said Judge Getz.

Judge Getz says he sees illegal immigrants in his court every week, and one incident last summer that killed a mother and her unborn child got his attention.

"A 16 year old here illegally had fake id papers, was driving while intoxicated ran into an expecting mother and her young child at front Street and Broadway ," said Getz.

After that incident Judge Getz thought more needed to be done locally to address the growing problem. He then contacted Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith who said a similar system was in place, but he was open to a meeting to discuss new options.

"We are always looking for new procedures, anything to better expedite the process we are always looking for," said Sheriff Smith.

This program the 24/7 Criminal Alien Program or CAP is part of that. Modeled after the city of Irving near Dallas it's a stride local leaders say will help make this community safer.

Sheriff Smith says criminals who commit a misdemeanor above a Class C, in other words more than just a traffic ticket, will be picked up by immigration services.

Now Smith County Sheriff Deputies told us they have had a similar system in place and for example these three individuals have ice holds on their accounts. Their crimes range from burglary of a habitation, to DWI, to possession. Once their time has been served in East Texas jail they will be turned over to immigration services.

Also a part of this meeting was Congressman Louie Gohmert who supports this plan completely but says there is a bigger problem for the county.

"There is one big problem, we've got no jail space in Smith County. The sheriff indicated we have 150 prisoners shipped out to other jails in other counties. As soon as we get enough jail space our police, law enforcement, Smith County Sheriff's Department stand ready to detain anybody until they are transported and deported," said Congressman Louie Gohmert.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.


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