On May 18, 2009, the Texas Senate passed a bill requiring Sheriffs or any other officers in charge of a correctional facility, to determine the “citizenship status” of all convicted felons. The bill, S.B 2584, amends Chapter 2, Code of Criminal Procedure, by adding Article 2.245. If a defendant has been convicted of a felony under Title 5 (Offenses Against the Person), Penal Code, Title 6 (Offenses Against the Family), Penal Code, Title 7 (Offenses Against Property), Penal Code, Chapter 43 (Public Indecency), Title 9 (Offenses Against Public Order and Decency), Penal Code, Chapter 45 (Weapons), Title 10 (Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Morals), Penal Code, and Chapter 481 (Texas Controlled Substances Act), Health and Safety Code, the sheriff or officer will make a reasonable effort to determine the defendant’s “citizenship status”. If the sheriff has reason to believe the defendant is a foreign national, within 48 hours after the defendant is received at the correctional facility, the sheriff or officer will contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to verify the defendant’s immigration status. The bill becomes effective September 1, 2009.

The bill places “sheriffs or other officers in charge of a correctional facility” in the role of immigration agents. The sheriff or officer now has another duty, to determine whether defendants have lawful status. The bill is available at Texas Legislature Online.