GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — Eighteen Texas sheriffs have signed up to participate in a federal immigration enforcement program that checks the immigration status of inmates in the county jail.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced the 18 official partnership agreements for the federal 287 (g) program being signed Monday at the Sheriffs' Association of Texas conference. Most of the agreements began over the last six weeks.

Under the program, sheriff's office personnel are trained so that people jailed locally and found to be in the country illegally can be held until federal agents decide if deportation is appropriate.

The 18 departments bring the number of ICE partnerships to 60 in the largest jump in participation in five years. ICE officials said in a release they plan to continue recruiting partners for the program.

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