Jail Where Sandra Bland Died Now Authorized to Detain Undocumented Immigrants

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The Texas jail where Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell two years ago has quietly been enlisted by federal authorities in recent months to help target undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has reached an agreement with Waller County to deputize the sheriff’s office for the controversial immigration enforcement program 287(g). The program authorizes deputies to act on the behalf of ICE to arrest and detain people based on their immigration status. In turn, county officials are given broad powers to jumpstart deportation proceedings for immigrants who otherwise wouldn’t have been on the radar of federal agents.

Waller County now joins at least 25 other local police agencies in being newly enlisted to enforce federal laws, part of an aggressive immigration strategy prized by President Donald Trump. Together they represent a localized deportation force that’s growing by the day. But already, the roster of new recruits includes departments with imperfect track records. Despite 287(g)’s contentious reputation, even the most embattled police agencies are encouraged to join.

Waller County’s inclusion in federal immigration efforts is particularly extraordinary given its prominence in the fierce national debate over race relations and policing. Bland’s death in 2015 stood out as a major flashpoint in the social movement to end racialized police violence—her story highlighted how too often, young Black women are the lesser-known victims of state brutality.

The Waller County Jail was required to revamp its protocols and provide additional medical care in the wake of Bland’s death. Yet even after those reforms were implemented, major problems continued to persist.

The county jail came under investigation in March after a female prisoner alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a man who was also incarcerated in the jail. The man was performing cleaning duties for the jail at the time of the alleged incident. County officials later acknowledged that the inmate was never authorized to take on those duties in the first place.

The jail later failed its inspection with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, state documents show. Jail staff was found non-compliant in three separate areas, including violations for not keeping male and female inmates separate at all times, unless under direct supervision.

Within days of both the assault and the failed inspection, ICE officials formally approved Waller County’s application to join 287(g).

Read the entire article at https://www.colorlines.com/articles/jail-where-sandra-bland-died-now-authorized-detain-undocumented-immigrants