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CAP Enables "Aggressive" Racial Profiling in Irving, Texas

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September 18, 2009

The C.A.P. Effect, (PDF) a report issued this week by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, sheds new light on the Criminal Alien Program (CAP) program in Irving, Tex., where there has been numerous racial profiling complaints over the past two years. The report proves what many critics already believed: CAP leads to rampant racial profiling. The C.A.P. Effect is based on data from the Irving Police Department gathered by the ACLU of Texas through open records requests and provided to the Warren Institute for study.

Run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the CAP program is meant to give local law enforcement officials access to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) information and personnel to facilitate the identification of serious, dangerous criminals and deport them. But the report finds strong evidence to support claims that Irving police engaged in racial profiling of Hispanics, arresting large numbers of people on minor charges in order to filter them through the CAP screening system.

The report found that during the Irving police force’s participation in CAP, there was a 150 percent increase in Latino arrests for petty crimes.

Congress has made clear that ICE “should have no greater immigration enforcement priority than to remove deportable aliens with serious criminal histories from the United States.” But the results of Irving’s aggressive arrest policies don’t target serious criminals: Once CAP was implemented in Irving, felony charges only accounted for 2 percent of ICE detainees, while 98 percent of ICE detainees were issued for individuals charged with misdemeanor offenses.

With results like this, it’s possible that precious law enforcement resources are being wasted on petty crimes, while dangerous, violent offenders are getting away. One bright spot in the study is that the Warren Institute was able to analyze the data at all. In most jurisdictions participating in CAP, no arrest data is collected and so no one can determine whether racial profiling is happening. DHS should require all CAP jurisdictions to keep data on arrests and ensure that individuals are not targeted because of their race or ethnicity.

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