Madam Speaker, Homeland Security shouldn't be left strictly to the Federal Government but requires the vigilant assistance of State, county and city police departments. When local law enforcement agencies choose not to detain criminal aliens for immigration enforcement officials, it is like a city police officer ignoring a bank robbery because it is a Federal crime. That kind of head in the sand mentality is ridiculous and will not make our Nation safer.
In Houston, Texas, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas is blazing a path with a common sense approach to dealing with undocumented aliens arrested for committing crimes. Sheriff Thomas recently announced that employees at the Harris County's Inmate Processing Center will receive Section 287(g) training from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officials.
This program will train deputies to identify, process and detain undocumented aliens arrested for criminal activity in Harris County. Instead of catch and release, this new training will allow deputies to catch and begin the deportation process for criminal aliens.
This program will help take more undocumented criminals off the streets and make the county safer for Texas families. For example, these criminals will no longer have the opportunity to continuously endanger lives by getting arrested multiple times for DWI. The deportation process will start in the county jail the first time they are arrested.
Besides trespassing into our Nation, undocumented aliens commit many other crimes such as driving without car insurance, drug trafficking, human smuggling, theft, burglary and murder. As a result, American citizens and legal immigrants end up carrying the financial burden such as increased medical and prison expenses.
Empowering local law enforcement officials to start the deportation process immediately after an illegal alien is arrested, sends a clear message that international trespassing will not be tolerated.
By not passing off responsibility for dealing with criminal aliens to the Federal Government, like in some cities, Sheriff Tommy Thomas is finding solutions to reducing crime in Harris County instead of making excuses. He is setting an example that other agencies should follow.
He is a great sheriff who's recent actions demonstrate that he is committing to protect our communities from both foreign and domestic criminals. It will take the leadership of other sheriffs like Thomas and police chiefs with the backbone to enforce all of our Nation's laws, instead of just the ones they prefer, for effective Homeland Security.
Today, I salute Sheriff Tommy Thomas for his local efforts and leadership in moving Harris County, and the rest of our Nation, in the right direction to protect citizens and legal immigrants from criminal aliens.
And that's just the way it is.