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Why Houston police officers do not check immigration status

A sanctuary city is a city in the United States that has policies in place designed to not prosecute undocumented immigrants, either by law or by habit. As Channel 2 Investigates recently reported as part of its series on illegal immigration and crime, many people believe that Houston is one of the sanctuary cities. However, the investigation revealed that's not so.

The Houston mayor, Annise Parker, told the investigators that the city complies with immigration laws and cooperates with enforcement efforts. But that doesn't mean that the city's police force is spending its time checking for the immigration status of people who could be in the country illegally.

Thanks to a Houston Police Department general order from 1990, Houston officers are specifically instructed that immigrant status is not an issue that they need to deal with. It states that offers shall not "detain or arrest persons solely on the belief that they are in this country illegally," Channel 2 Investigates reported.

The investigators looked into the policy documents from 11 Houston-area police departments and the sheriff's office and were not able to find any order that instructs officers not to collaborate with immigration officials, but none instructed officers to check immigration status, either.

This isn't to say that Houston police officers can't or won't ask for immigration documentation, though. And as the mayor made clear, the local police force is working cooperatively with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bottom line is that Houston is not a sanctuary city, and people should not mistake it as such.

Anyone who is facing immigration issues, from seeking naturalization to fighting deportation, should immediately contact an experienced immigration lawyer for assistance. You need someone on your side who will fight for you to stay in this great country.

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