As another result of the federal government’s refusal to take any action regrading immigration reform, more and more local jurisdictions are attempting their own solutions — usually with poor results and unintended consequences.

Sheriff’s hopefuls want jail to check for illegal immigrants Dallas County: Most from GOP say jail could detect suspects who are in country illegally

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department isn’t doing enough to identify illegal immigrants in the jail, according to some Republican candidates for sheriff.

Illegal immigration, a hot topic locally and nationally, has become an issue in the race for sheriff. Several candidates are addressing it in their campaigns. One of them, Mesquite police Lt. Charlie Richmond, has made it his top issue.

He and fellow Republican candidates Catherine Smit and Jim Bowles say they would apply for special training from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would allow jailers to question inmates about their immigration status and detain them for federal authorities.

But former Irving Police Chief Lowell Cannaday said he would prefer to use a model used in Irving in which jailers call ICE at all hours of the day when they suspect an inmate is in the country illegally.

Most of the Democrats in the race don’t support such measures.

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is running for re-election, says she has no plans to change the current arrangement in which a couple of ICE agents periodically visit the Lew Sterrett Justice Center to question inmates.

All of the Democratic candidates for sheriff except for Lancaster school Police Chief Sam Allen agree that the department is doing all it can and that immigration enforcement is a job best left to the federal government.

When ICE agents determine an inmate is a noncitizen who is deportable, they place a hold or detainer on him so he can be turned over to federal authorities once his local criminal charges are resolved.

That means the inmates must sit in the jail until ICE can pick them up. Between 180 and 230 Dallas County prisoners are released to ICE’s custody every month, said Ron Stretcher, the county’s criminal justice director.

He said he has not studied the impact of the detainers on the jails’ population but that he plans to do so.

“Anytime you place holds or detainers, it’s critical that we get a quick response,” Mr. Stretcher said, referring to ICE’s ability to take custody of inmates.

Mr. Cannaday said some defense attorneys will bond out their clients when they know ICE agents are not inside the jail. He said illegal immigrants must be screened when they are booked into the jail.

Inmates who are booked into the Dallas County jails currently must fill out a form that asks for their country of birth. But jail guards do not use that information to screen for illegal immigrants.

It’s an election year, and the question of identifying illegal immigrants in jails has arisen in the Harris County sheriff’s race as well.

Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas, who is running for re-election, wants his jailers to receive the ICE training to determine the immigration status of noncitizens.

Ms. Smit, the Cockrell Hill police chief who is running as a Republican, said she would work with other law enforcement agencies in the county to develop a coordinated strategy for tackling the problem.

“Every prisoner who comes into intake should be questioned at book-in so ICE agents have an opportunity to get to them before they bond out,” she said.