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FORT WORTH (CBS11) – While Texas lawmakers debate whether to ban sanctuary cities, Tarrant County’s new sheriff, Bill Waybourn says he wants to do more to help identify those who may be in the U.S. illegally.

Waybourn has applied for a voluntary federal program, officially called “287G.”

It’s not new, and has been a federal program for years.

President Donald Trump advocated for it in his Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration.

If approved by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, corrections officers inside the Tarrant County Jail would be able to identify and place inmates on an immigration detainer until immigration authorities can take them into custody.

They would replace the two ICE agents who are stationed at the jail now who check inmates immigration status.

“When they commit crimes against our people, it becomes our business,” said Sheriff Waybourn.

The Sheriff said because ICE agents are mostly here Monday through Friday, they can’t identify everyone in jail who’s here illegally.

So he said he would have 12 officers do the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“If somebody comes in the jail on a Friday evening and bonded out on a Sunday, they missed it. They weren’t here,” said Sheriff Waybourn.

He said this program would prevent that from happening.

Fort Worth Immigration attorney Francisco Hernandez says the county should keep ICE agents at the jail.

“They do their job day in and day out. If you want to turn it over from the experts to the learners, ok. I think it’ll cost us more money in the long run, yes. It’s a waste of money because it’ll cost us a whole lot more,” said Hernandez.

The Sheriff acknowledges it will cost more because there will be some additional inmates staying a little longer before they’re turned over to the feds.

“If we can reduce crime, and we can make sure those people are not in our midst anymore committing criminal acts anymore, that’s a duty to our citizens. Well-worth the cost.”

Waybourn believes if approved, his jail would be the largest urban facility in the country to take part in the program.

He said it only impacts jail inmates.  His department would not be out looking for people who are here illegally.

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