For the past two years, the Texas Department of Public Safety has shared with immigration officers the names of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of motorists its officers ticketed around the state to make it easier for federal authorities to deport those they suspect of being in the country illegally.
The little-known “DPS citation lists” recently came to light in San Antonio in a federal immigration case that highlighted a stop by a state trooper, who, according to a judge, was “unprofessional” toward a motorist he suspected of being here illegally by chastising him when he spoke Spanish and shoving him roughly against a pickup after the man didn’t appear to understand a command.
The lists are important to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the agency carries out President Donald Trump’s orders to deport more undocumented immigrants. Critics argue that the arrangement may allow police to racially profile motorists or to make pretextual stops.
But some advocates defend such a practice, arguing that it’s just another tool for helping ICE concentrate on undocumented immigrants who have crimes in their backgrounds and may be a threat to public safety.
“What they (DPS officers) do is they generate a list and they forward it to us to investigate all the names that are there,” ICE agent Omar Esquivel testified at a court hearing in San Antonio recently. “What we do, we want records checks on every name that’s (on) there.”
The number of people on the list depends “on how many citations they issue,” Esquivel said, but each of the 12 agents with his ICE unit in San Antonio gets a piece of the list. Each portion can contain 20 to 100 names, Esquivel said.
According to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, the arrangement is not just in the San Antonio area, but statewide. The citation lists contain the names of people ticketed only for certain violations, without regard to a person’s origin, he said.
By Guillermo Contreras for SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS
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