LatinaLista — In a rare move that made international headlines, the Mexican Consulate issued a travel warning to its citizens to avoid Irving, Texas.
The Consul noted that an excessive amount of Mexican nationals were being picked up and referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Consul felt that the Irving police department was guilty of racial profiling.
Come to find out that was only part of the problem. The other part was that the local law officers were abusing the partnership program ICE created to work with local law enforcement to help identify criminal unauthorized immigrants. The program is called the “Criminal Alien Program” (CAP).
In fact, Irving officials have abused the program to the point where even ICE has said enough is enough.
In a memo provided to The Dallas Morning News, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told city officials to “stop referring illegal immigrants who have been arrested for Class C misdemeanors.”
The original intent of the Criminal Alien Program is to identify anyone who is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor or above or who poses a threat to national security or public safety.
Class C misdemeanors, such as driving without a license, do not constitute a national security threat.
Since Irving officials enacted the CAP program, monthly protests of the tactics of the Irving police department have been widely criticized and seen as a way to not root out real criminals but to subject the city’s entire Latino immigrant community to intimidation and abuse, using the CAP program as a shield for their actions.
Nobody believed the protesters until the local newspaper and community activists released documentation on the percentage of Class C misdemeanors Irving officials were using as an excuse to call in ICE to start deportation hearings against those detained.
According to figures, 60% of the 1,700 suspected illegal immigrants turned over to ICE were guilty of nothing more than a Class C misdemeanor.
The abuse of the CAP program in this way has resulted in anecdotal stories being shared among the Irving immigrant community that people no longer trust the police to help them.
It’s bad enough that adults, who are much likelier to be victims of serious crimes feel they cannot turn to police for help, but for children to see the police in the same light negatively impacts the respect children have for official authority figures.
With no respect for authority, chaos is bound to evolve.
Whether ICE was so inundated because of Irving’s vigilante approach to the program or the numbers underscored a valid point critics voiced, ICE finally did what was right in issuing the order to Irving officials.
Time will tell if Irving officials can change their ways and if the damage already done to community relations is irreversible.