Chief’s Counsel: Houston—We Have a Solution

Since September 11, 2001, the war on terror has taken many twists and turns. And one of the most vexing problems has been the role local law enforcement should play in dealing with illegal immigrants who are found within U.S. borders. The federal government, since the horrendous events of that terrible day, has been placing notices of administrative warrants for removal and civil detainer notices for deportable felons on the NCIC criminal database.

Local police officers have the established authority to enforce against criminal violations; but these administrative warrants and detainer notices are civil in nature, because they resulted from civil immigration proceedings. Local officers’ authority to make civil arrests for immigration violations is less clearly established under federal law, and their authority to make civil arrests under state and local law also varies from one jurisdiction to the next.