The phone calls started pouring in at Irving City Hall on Thursday morning.
They were prompted by activists who implored a crowd of more than 1,000 people at a rally Wednesday night to call for an end to a program that turns over arrested illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But most callers weren’t asking for an end to the program—they were voicing their support.
“It was ringing over and over, and by far, the biggest percent was in favor,” City Secretary Janice Carroll said Thursday afternoon.
Irving police last year began using what’s called the 24/7 Criminal Alien Program. It provides for around-the-clock communication with federal authorities and is designed to detain illegal immigrants who have been accused of a crime. It’s the latest tool being used by local governments in the absence of a federal overhaul of immigration laws. So far, Irving police have turned over more than 1,600 people to immigration officials.
Mayor Herbert Gears estimates that about 300 people in Irving are being turned over each month—more than in any other city in the nation. He said city officials are obligated to uphold the law and will continue to use the program, which is available to any city that wishes to participate.
“Of the 200 e-mails I’ve read so far, one is negative and all the rest are positive,” Mr. Gears said Thursday afternoon. “People are very overwhelmingly supporting what we are doing.”