Tag Archives: 287 (g)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Can we shut this guy down yet?

Though I caught wind of this story last week, I just sat down to do some research this morning and all I can say is “Are you KIDDING me?!?!”. Last week Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made a name for himself by hunting down the “illegals” of Maricopa County, Arizona, admitted that clothing, conduct and speech are the characteristics that help him determine the immigration status of potential targets. He may as well have said “Well, I racially profile people. That’s how I know”. Incredible. Check out the clip below:

Arpaio is facing ever-increasing scrutiny over his immigration enforcement practices and is currently under a Department of Justice investigation for the countless allegations of racial profiling leveled at his agency. Apparently, Arpaio’s biggest defense was the Federal law he mentioned in the video above. The irony is, the Federal law that Arpaio cites as giving him the power to use these characteristics in his enforcement practices isn’t a law at all. In fact, its a legal analysis that was published by none other than FAIR, the anti-immigrant organization designated a hate group by the SPLC.

However, Matt Bunk of the Arizona Capitol Times points out that no such language exists in any federal immigration law and that the document that Arpaio continuously referenced and passed out at a press conference is actually a legal analysis published by a designated hate group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

When questioned about this, Arpaio admitted that it “might not be a law” but that there was “definitely a law out there” that gave him the power to do this. Basically, Arpaio is admitting that he is operating OUTSIDE of the law and has pledged that he will continue to do so, regardless of how far the administration goes in reigning in his powers.

In fact, even though the government has stripped Arpaio’s authority to conduct immigration raids in Maricopa County, he has promised that today he will be conducting one of his famous sweeps. No word yet on if that’s happened, but it’s clear that this man’s power needs to be taken away. Senator Jose M. Serrano had a letter to the editor published in today’s New York Times, where he gets to the heart of the issue:

…Extremists like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, are just part of the problem; federal policies that empower these men represent the underlying threat to immigrant communities.

The system is broken. And the longer it waits to be fixed, the more dangerous this threat will become.

[via Andrea Nill at Think Progress]

Even the Police Foundation knows 287(g) is a bad idea

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I have been posting for at least a year about the negative impacts of the so-called 287(g) program that allows local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.  The most notable case of 287(g)’s negative impact on communities is that of Maricopa County and our food friend Joe Arpaio. 287(g) is the program that gives Arpaio the authority to continue  his reign of terror in Arizona.

Recently the Police Foundation, a non-partisan Think Tank whose stated goal is “Supporting innovation and improvements in policing“, released a study on local enforcement of federal immigration laws. The result? To be brief: Federal Immigration laws should not be enforced by local police agencies. Period. (Tell us something we don’t already know…)

Some interesting conclusions from the report:

  • The costs of participating in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 287(g) program outweigh the benefits.
  • Police officers should be prohibited from arresting and detaining persons to solely investigate immigration status in the absence of probable cause of an independent state criminal law violation.

And my own personal favorite:

  • Local law enforcement leaders and policing organizations should place pressure on the federal government to comprehensively improve border security and reform the immigration system, because the federal government’s failure on both issues has had serious consequences in cities and towns throughout the country.

So, let’s go back through the list. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Alan Greenspan, Rahm Emanuel, the two biggsest Labor Unions in the country, the Faith community, Latino and New American Voters and a majority of the American Public all want immigration reform.

And as for 287(g), none of the conclusions of the report are surprising. Let’s hope the administration listens up, instead of pouring even more money into enforcement.

State and Local Round-up

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NATIONAL: Obama, Congress to Revisit Program on Security Standards for Driver’s Licenses Congress and the Obama administration are considering ceding key ground in a long-running battle between the federal government and the states over Real ID, the four-year-old federal program that requires all states to start issuing more secure driver’s licenses by the end of the year.

NJ: Morristown Residents Attend Immigration Rally Where Sen. Menendez Says 287(g) Won’t Be Necessary – Comprehensive immigration reform will “ultimately nullify the need for a 287(g),” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said Saturday at a press conference following a Familias Unidas rally at the Iglesia Jesucristo Es El Senor church in Elizabeth.

SC: Immigration Rules May Lack Funds – The director of the state agency responsible for enforcing South Carolina’s mammoth new immigration law says her department doesn’t have the money needed to fully enforce it.

CA: Immigration: Rep. Hunter Introduces Border Bill – A group of Republican lawmakers introduced a bill in Congress on Thursday they say would strengthen border security and increase penalties for gun smuggling.

IA: 2 Iowa Towns, 2 Perspectives On Immigration Raids – For immigrant advocates, the raid on a meatpacking plant in Postville last May was evidence of all that is wrong with large-scale arrests of illegal workers.

Reports Questions Success of 287(g) Program

Today, the New York Times reported that the Government Accountability Office has released their findings on a study of the infamous 287(g) program. The program, which has 67 participating local law enforcement agencies, is designed to allow local law enforcement agents to enforce Federal immigration laws.

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We have been saying for years that not only is 287(g) ineffective, but it is costly to communities, who experience a heightened sense of insecurity and fear under the program. Well, now the GAO is coming out and saying basically the same thing.

The report, to be released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, says the government has failed to determine how many of the thousands of people deported under the program were the kind of violent felons it was devised to root out.

Some law enforcement agencies had used the program to deport immigrants “who have committed minor crimes, such as carrying an open container of alcohol,” the report said, and at least four agencies referred minor traffic offenders for deportation.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has already ordered a review of the program. A top official at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is set to testify at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

The ineffective program is yet another symptom created by the lack of Immigration Reform at the Federal level. When Federal laws are pushed off onto local entities for enforcement, you are bound to run into issues. This is a Federal problem and should be dealt with as such.

Again (and I feel like a broken record here, people) this draws even more attention to the NEED FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM. The system is broken and no amount of manuevering at the local level can fix it. Immigration Reform must be passed, and soon.

Vermont Police Relieve Tensions with Immigrants

Too often, when local law enforecment begins attempting to enforce federal immigration law, there is a “chilling effect” in the local immigrant community. What this means is that local immigrants are much less likely to report crimes, even when they are victims, because they fear local law enforcement. They stop seeing local officials as protectors of public safety and begin to see them as something to fear.

This is one of the problems with the so-called 287(g) program, which trains local police to enforce federal immigration law. Immigrants are pushed into the shadows, fearing local officials. Even when immigrants are victims of violent crimes, they are hesitant to go to police.

That is why I was so excited to hear the decision of Vermont Police to not investigate the immigration status of three migrant farm workers who were assaulted and robbed earlier this month.

“This was the first time we had confronted a situation like this,” said Col. James Baker, director of the Vermont State Police. “We decided that, as far as pursuing the investigation of this case, we would not actively pursue the immigration issue.”

The issue arose when the owner of a North Hero farm told police that on the night of Sept. 5, one of his workers was accosted by armed assailants looking for cash and who then robbed several other workers at the employee’s residence. Police said two South Hero farms were hit in the same manner that night and one the following night in Alburgh.

“We do not want to discourage anyone who is a victim of a crime from reporting that crime,” Baker said. “To do otherwise is to put these people in a higher position to be victimized.”

Very well put. I hope that others can see the importance of this small step by Vermont Police. If we are truly trying to improve and protect our communities, we must make sure to protect all involved – and sometimes this means protect the most vulnerable.