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February 02, 2008

Texas Considers A Crackdown On Invaders

Posted in: Law enforcement

My San Antonio

RICHARDSON — Sheer frustration over the inability of national leaders to overhaul the U.S. immigration system has pushed Texas lawmakers to consider ways to tackle the problem themselves, at least in helping kick out criminal immigrants.

Lawmakers here Friday learned that, despite state laws in place for more than a decade, most local and state law enforcement and correctional agencies keep little or no information on immigrant inmates and don’t link up effectively with their federal counterparts.

The daylong joint session of the Texas House Corrections and County Affairs committees at the University of Texas at Dallas was part of its effort to come up with new state standards for dealing with undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.

“In many cases, when they first enter the system, we don’t even ask them if they’re here legally or not,” said Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, chairman of the Corrections Committee, noting there currently are more than 9,000 foreign-born inmates in the state. “Immigration is federal, but they’re serving state offenses so they’re our responsibility.”

Representatives from the Homeland Security Department declined an invitation to testify.

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