By SUSAN CARROLL
Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
July 11, 2009, 12:58AM
The Houston Police Department has been approved to participate in a controversial federal program that would train a cadre of city jailers to help detain suspected illegal immigrants, immigration officials announced Friday.
The announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials comes nearly four months after Mayor Bill White requested that federal officials expedite training for city jailers.
White made the request within days of the March 5 shooting of Houston police officer Rick Salter, who was critically injured by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record. Salter is recovering.
HPD and White have faced pressure for years to change the city’s policy for dealing with suspected illegal immigrants. Critics have called Houston a “Sanctuary City” — a label White has fought vehemently — because of a long-standing policy that prohibits HPD officers from questioning suspects on the streets about their citizenship.
Through the program, city jails would get special training that will allow them to question inmates about their immigration status and hold them for federal agents.
City spokesman Frank Michel said Friday that Houston police and the mayor’s office had yet to receive or sign the documents formalizing HPD’s participation in the program, known as 287(g) and could not comment.
Michel said the city intends to participate but wants to see more specifics on changes announced for the program nationally on Friday. link to complete article