A new federal report has criticized the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, which gives state and local law enforcement agencies authority to enforce immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found the program does not have adequate safeguards against racial profiling and other civil rights abuses. In addition, the report said local police officers have misused the program by targeting undocumented immigrants who have been arrested for minor offenses. The report states, “ICE cannot be assured that the 287(g) program is meeting its intended purpose, or that resources are being appropriately targeted toward aliens who pose the greatest risk to public safety and the community.” Critics of the program say many immigrants will no longer call the local police for help out of fear they could be arrested and deported. Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “The 287(g) program, as this latest report confirms, all but abandons the constitutional guarantees of fair treatment and due process, and encourages racial and ethnic profiling.”
Last July, the Department of Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano announced it was expanding the 287(g) program:
. . . with 11 new partnerships across the country. The department also announced steps to improve oversight of 287(g), which has been plagued by reports of racial profiling and abuse. . . . But Ms. Napolitano should be deep-sixing this program, not tweaking or widening it.
Don’t just take our word: many responsible police chiefs and sheriffs have stoutly opposed having immigration duties outsourced to them. The Police Foundation, a nonprofit research group, declared in a study in April that the costs of 287(g) outweigh the benefits, not just because it strains budgets, but also because it undermines community policing, which relies heavily on building trust among those the officers serve and protect.
Turning local cops into immigration enforcers makes racial profiling more likely while sending a chill through immigrant neighborhoods, where victims fear and avoid the police and crimes go unsolved for lack of witnesses. As a police chief in the report said: “How can you police a community that will not talk to you?” Editorial, More Immigration Non-Solutions, N.Y. Times, July 13, 2009, at A18.