Adrian Garcia became the first Hispanic sheriff in Harris County history in 2008. The son of Mexican immigrants, he spent 23 years on the Houston police force and six years on the City Council and now runs one of the largest 287(g) and Secure Communities programs in the nation. Under those programs, the sheriff allows federal immigration officials inside the jail to identify and remove undocumented immigrants who have been arrested.
In an interview this week in his downtown Houston office, Garcia talked about growing up as a child of legal immigrants, how his mom helped change his liberal views about illegal immigration and about how he reconciles his department's immigration policy with his own background. He also talked about his troubled, overcrowded jail, which has become the state's largest provider of mental health care, and about a big question in the Texas governor's race: whether former Houston Mayor Bill White, the Democratic nominee for governor, presided over a sanctuary city, as Gov. Rick Perry has charged.