WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas -- The Williamson County Sheriff's office is the only local law enforcement agency that is in an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to perform immigration enforcement.

  • Program began 1 year ago
  • Only local law agency partnered with ICE
  • 402 undocumented immigrants detained

Williamson County Commander Christ Watts held a briefing on the program, which began a year ago. Nearly 11,000 inmates have been booked in the Williamson County Jail since October 2018.

Over the span of the year, 402 detainers were issued for undocumented immigrants. The inmates make up about 7 percent of the jail. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the 287(g) program allows designated immigration officers to identify and detain immigrants in the Williamson County Jail after they are booked. No immigration enforcement happens on the streets and all inmates are screened on their citizenship status once they enter the jail.

"We identify ourselves as who we are. There are posters in the area that we bring them into, so they know they have the rights: English [and] Spanish. We interview and we ask a panel of questions and usually by the second or third question, we can pretty much tell if they are here legally or illegally,” said Watts.

There are 15 officers in the jail, who perform their normal duties on top of the program. The process typically takes about an hour and a half to fill out the necessary paperwork before ICE takes over.

About 35 to 40 inmates are detained a day for their potential undocumented status.