Obama to shut down local police as immigration . enforcement...what say you?
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have trained local
officers around the country to act as their agencies' immigration
officers. Working either in jails or in the field, the officers can
check the immigration status of suspects and place immigration holds on
obmamaThe program, known as 287(g), reached its peak under President George W. Bush, when 60 local agencies signed contracts with ICE to implement it. But that trend slowed significantly under President Obama— only eight agencies have signed up since he took office, and none has done so since August 2010.
Now, in their proposed budget for the upcoming year, Department of Homeland Security
officials say they will not sign new contracts for 287(g) officers
working in the field and will terminate the "least productive" of those
agreements — saving an estimated $17 million. All the contracts between
ICE and local police agencies run for three years, so that portion of
the program could be finished by November when the last contract for
field officers expires.
In its budget request,
DHS said officials instead will focus on expanding Secure Communities, a
program that checks the fingerprints of all people booked into local
jails against federal immigration databases. The followup work in those
cases is done by ICE agents, not local police.
Secure Communities screening process is more consistent, efficient and
cost-effective in identifying and removing criminal and other priority
aliens," the department explained in its budget request.
program had been criticized by Homeland Security inspector general
reports, which found that local officers were not being properly trained
and there was not enough oversight to ensure that local agencies
weren't using the program to engage in racial profiling.
A study last year by the Migration Policy Institute,
a non-partisan think tank, found that immigrants developed "fear and
mistrust of authorities" when they realized that local police could act
as immigration agents.
The main complaint
Friday from groups that oppose 287(g) was that the program isn't being
terminated immediately, and that its replacement — Secure Communities —
is not much better.
"The 287(g) program has
been repeatedly called into question by advocates as well as the
Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, and should be
terminated rather than sustained with taxpayer money," said Ali Noorani,
executive director of the National Immigration Forum.
"The Secure Communities program is surrounded by grave concerns about
the impact to public safety, community policing and civil rights
Defenders of the program, such as
Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, say Homeland
Security is "putting politics ahead of public safety" by cutting back
the 287(g) program. She said Secure Communities is helpful but that
local officers working in the field are better able to identify illegal
immigrants who may not have their fingerprints in federal databases,
making it harder to identify them.
some agencies such as the Colorado Department of Public Safety have used
their 287(g) officers to suppress drug and human smuggling, gang
activity and identity theft and said many sheriffs and police chiefs
prefer the program to Secure Communities.
problem for ICE is that while they may feel that they get political
brownie points for this kind of gesture, in reality what the
anti-enforcement groups want is for them to end 287(g) and Secure
Communities, not curtail (them)," said Vaughan, director of policy
studies for the center. "So it's futile — they end up making everyone on
both sides angry.
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