As reported by the Dallas Morning News, federal immigration agents since October have cut back by about 50% the number of suspected illegal immigrants removed from the Irving city jail. The city of Irving began running citizenship checks in 2006 on all people arrested by Irving police.

There seems to be some confusion about the reason for the decrease in immigration holds. Here are excerpts from the newspaper article:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and Irving police disagree on the cause of the drop. Irving police say that federal officials are no longer detaining scores of suspected illegal immigrants who only have class C misdemeanor charges.

“Nothing changed in terms of our practice,” Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said. “We still share information with everyone who is arrested in Irving.”

Immigration officials say they continue to place immigration holds on suspected illegal immigrants accused of low-level crime. They suggest Irving jailers are the ones who have made an alteration.

“We haven’t stopped taking any sort of referrals at all,” said Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesman.

Irving has turned more than 5,600 people over for deportation since the city began using the Criminal Alien Program in 2006. The program allows federal authorities to check the immigration status of inmates in the city’s jail.

Irving officials brag that with the program, they have turned over more suspected illegal immigrants than any other city in the country. Demonstrations supporting and opposing CAP helped the city become the backdrop for America’s discussion on illegal immigration nearly three years ago.

Rusnok said the agency will take only people charged with more serious crimes if resources such as beds, time or manpower are scarce. But, he said, there have not been the kind of long-term resource shortages to explain the sudden and sustained drop in detainers in Irving.

Boyd maintains that his jailers have said that ICE no longer seems able or interested in taking suspected illegal immigrants charged with the lowest level of crimes. Boyd said ICE has taken about 82 percent fewer Irving people charged only with class C misdemeanors this year compared with last year.

The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity last year released a report that found “strong evidence” that Irving officers racially profiled Hispanics in order to process them through CAP. Boyd disputed the study. The report from the institute, which is part of the law school at the University of California-Berkeley, was released the month before last year’s drop in detainers.

Boyd, who has disputed the study’s finding, said it had nothing to do with the decline in immigration holds. He said the study also has not changed the average number of inmates or the crimes for which arrestees are held.