The number of Galveston County jail inmates handed over to federal immigration authorities this year is up more than 80 percent over recent years because of Trump Administration policies that expended deportation efforts to include those charged with minor crimes.

The number of federal immigration detainers sent to the jail hit triple digits, which had not occurred since 2011 when the Obama Administration began restricting the detainer requests to those charged with serious crimes.

That policy changed when President Donald Trump took office in January, leading to an uptick in the number of people the federal government wanted held in Galveston County’s central jail until they could be transferred into the custody of U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement.

ICE issued 107 detainer requests to the county through November 2017, up from 58 the year before, according to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.

Detainer requests are the legal devices ICE uses to hold a person who has been arrested for a crime and also is suspected of being in the country illegally. The immigration agency issues such requests to jails after a prisoner has served his sentence and is being released, or is set to leave the jail on bond.

The number of requests sent to the jail through 11 months this year is higher than the number of requests recorded in any year since 2010, according to data collected by the Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The number of requests made as of November was up 84 percent compared with the 58 issued during the full 12 months of 2016.

During the last four years of the Obama Administration, ICE sent an average of 67 requests to the jail annually.

Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset credited the increase to Trump administration policies.

“Obama sent the letter out to not even contact immigration unless they were convicted felons,” Trochesset said. “Now that they have a different playbook, a different coach, a different president they don’t mind getting any individual that might not be a resident of this country.”

The number of detainers issued to the jail this year is not unprecedented and was higher at times during the Obama administration. In 2010, for instance, the jail received 174 detainer requests, according to clearinghouse data.

During his first term, Obama greatly increased the use of detainers to deport people from the country. The practice declined over time, particularly after 2014 when the administration changed enforcement priorities to focus on gang members, people convicted of felonies and people suspected of terrorist activities.

The increases in Galveston are reflected in jails across the country, Susan Long, the co-director of the Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse, said.

“It’s the announced policy,” Long said. “There’s certainly heightened enforcement and detainers are key to that.”

The increase in detainers has not meant extra work for the jail, which has been challenged with overcrowding, Trochesset said.

“It’s not that big a number to cause a bump in the road,” Trochesset said.

When immigration authorities issue an immigration detainer on someone at the jail, that person is usually picked up within 24 hours, Trochesset said. Deputies are not used to transport people on detainers to immigration facilities, he said.


The sheriff’s office earlier this year joined a federal program through which local law enforcement officers are trained to identify people living in the country the illegally.

The program is run out of the jail, and can be done at the same time a person is being booked for a crime.

Agencies that don’t participate in the program can notify federal authorities about suspicions on a person’s immigration status. It was up to immigration authorities to confirm the person’s legal status.

Only one Galveston County Sheriff’s Office employee has been trained to participate in the program, Trochesset said. The training for the program takes place out of state and the office is waiting federal authorities to offer more details about future training opportunities, he said.

Galveston County was one of 18 agencies to join the program this year in what federal authorities said was the largest expansion of the program in its history. The number of agencies in the country participating in the program has doubled.

During his campaign, Trump pledged to crack down on illegal immigration. But while immigration arrests across the country have increased by about 25 percent, the number of people deported has decreased by 6 percent, according to news service agency Reuters.

The decline in deportations is because of both a decrease in the number of people trying to enter the country illegally and a backlog of cases in the county’s immigration courts, according to Reuters.

The Trump administration has emphasized its immigration policies in other ways, including by asking cities that receive Department of Justice grants to hire police officers to pledge not to act as “sanctuary cities,” and to co-operate with federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws.

Last month, the city of Galveston announced it had received one of those grants. The city will receive $875,000 to hire seven new police officers.

Galveston Police Department Chief Richard Boyle said the city agreed to sign the pledge, while noting that most of the immigration enforcement is up to the jail system. The city of Galveston sends all of its prisoners directly to the Galveston County jail.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Senior Reporter

(21) comments

PD Hyatt

Bravo. Glad to hear the law of the land is finally going to be followed....

Dwight Burns

Statistically speaking, the law of the land was already being inforced. And whatever happened to common sense?

Kelly Naschke

Is “inforced” the transverse of ENFORCED ? That makes perfect sense if your implication is that the Obama administration DIDN’T Enforce immigration law. If that wasn’t your implication....I suggest that YOU should not be speaking of common sense.

Dwight Burns

Oops, typo. I did mean enforced.

Kelly Naschke

That wasn't a typo. The E is nowhere near the I. You straight up misspelled it,

Carlos Ponce

"increase in immigration holds" ? Sounds like it's where it's supposed to be.
2010 -174
And as non-enforcement of THE LAW became the modus operandi of the Obama administration that number decreased to 44 in 2015 and 58 in 2016.
And now in 2017 it's 107.
“It’s not that big a number to cause a bump in the road,” Trochesset said.
"When immigration authorities issue an immigration detainer on someone at the jail, that person is usually picked up within 24 hours, Trochesset said."
24 hours-It's not like they're guests of the County facilities for long.
Sounds good!
"Minor Crimes" - It would be nice to know what this article defines as a "minor crime". Are we talking about jaywalking, drug use or what?

Richard Beverlin Jr

Your engageing in FAKE NEWS. Ref. your article about detainee retention. "Trump policies in recent years." President Trump just took office in Jannuary.

Randy Chapman

So sick of them being called immigrants. They are criminals that broke into this country, not immigrants.

Kelly Naschke

Have to agree with Randy. These are ILLEGAL immigrants. Illegal means breaking our laws. Breaking our laws makes CRIMINALS. By referring to these CRIMINALS as immigrants, denigrates the LEGAL IMMIGRANTS that follow our laws and we welcome into our country. This article is nothing more than the typical GDN slantedly biased FAKE NEWS meant to impugn our president. Get over it hacks....this is exactly what Trump was elected to DO.

Gary Scoggin

If breaking the law makes you a CRIMINAL, then when I go over the speed limit, I am a CRIMINAL, too.

Carlos Ponce

Question for Gary, are the detained and deported guilty of only speeding? I will answer for you. NO!!!!!!!!!

PD Hyatt

Yes, when you are caught!

Kelly Naschke

Where are the articles about our all time low unemployment....all time highs in consumer confidence....growth of our economy that Obama said wasn’t possible...stock market records...and the predicted implosion of Obama care that’s come to fruition?

Kelly Naschke

Where are the articles about Hillary and uranium? How about Hillary and the DNC corruption? How about Hillary and her pay for play Clinton foundation? How about Hillary paying for the Russian dossier that led to all the Russia Russia Russia hysteria? How about Hillary and the cover ups for her sexual predator impeached president husband? I could go on ALL DAY.

Gary Miller

Kelly! It's the swamp. HRC started in the 90's the process of hiring supporters then promoting them until every important government agency was top heavy with partizens. With the top 15 FBI agents being HRC supporters there is little likelihood she will be charged with any thing. Flynn was charged with one lie but HRC won't be charged for hundreds of bigger lies.

Don Schlessinger

Thank you President Trump for keeping your promises.

Jose' Boix

The travesty of this situation is that we do not have the needed personnel to enforce the whatever acts/laws what we now have. So we keep tweaking, adding and revising the various provisions of the laws/acts creating an illusion of a more effective compliance process. Just consider that we do not even have sufficient judges or detention centers to house all these "caught illegals/undocumented" individuals. The one rational change - in my opinion - to add, is to develop a defined process and path to citizenship. That is what I had when I emigrated and entered this great Country; surrender my passport, become a refugee (i.e., ability to legally work & enter college), then a resident and finally after a period of 6-9 years earn Citizenship. Just my thoughts.

Ana Draa

In case anyone is curious how the Bible instructs us in regard to immigrants...

1. Do not mistreat foreigners who are living in your land. Treat them as you would an Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
(Leviticus 19:33-34)

2. He makes sure that orphans and widows are treated fairly; he loves the foreigners who live with our people, and gives them food and clothes. So then, show love for those foreigners, because you were once foreigners in Egypt.
(Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

3. “Long ago I gave these commands to my people: ‘You must see that justice is done, and must show kindness and mercy to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners who live among you, or anyone else in need.”
(Zechariah 7:9)

4. I am the Lord, and I consider all people the same, whether they are Israelites or foreigners living among you.
(Numbers 15:16)

5. See that justice is done – help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.
(Isaiah 1:17)

Carlos Ponce

Ana read Romans 13:2 "Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves."
Immigrants are welcome under the law. Those who circumvent authority are ILLEGAL immigrants and are bringing judgement upon themselves.
LEGAL immigrants and VISITORS from foreign lands are welcome into this country as long as they come in under the law. Note that the only ones being detained and deported are those who not only entered illegally but who also BROKE THE LAWS in this country.
Sounds like you're for open borders.
" All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected, but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That's why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens.
In the budget I will present to you we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.
We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it."
These are not the words of Donald Trump but those of a Democratic president in his 1995 State of the Union Address.

JoAnne Gilmore

Thank you Mr. Ponce. I could never had put it as eloquently as you have done.[smile]

Jose' Boix

We do not have the required process and workforce to deport all the folks who are here illegally or undocumented. And, I have not heard much consensus about taking such step. So then, and Biblically speaking, how we separate the "separate the wheat from the chaff"? Using another analogy, when a ship (the USA due to too many folks sneaking in) is sinking do you start throwing folks overboard and try to get all hands on deck to fix the problem? Just my thoughts.

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