ICE Should Terminate Maricopa County 287(g) Agreement

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
October 6, 2009 12:00 am

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Scaling Back Sheriff Arpaio’s Immigration Enforcement Authority Does Not Go Far Enough, Says ACLU

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PHOENIX – News reports indicate that a proposed new agreement under the controversial 287(g) program would strip the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office (MCSO) of authority to enforce federal immigration law on the street but would continue the program for deputies working in county jails. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has stated that he intends to continue street-level immigration enforcement despite the change in the agreement. The federal 287(g) program allows certain state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in federal immigration enforcement activities.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes that the federal government should not enter into any agreement granting MCSO immigration enforcement authority, especially in light of MCSO’s history of civil rights abuses under its current 287(g) agreement and the sheriff’s stated intention to ignore the limits of the proposed new agreement.

The following can be attributed to Omar Jadwat, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project:

“Notwithstanding his comments, Sheriff Arpaio is required to abide by the law and the limitations of any new agreement. But the fundamental issue is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shouldn’t enter into a 287(g) agreement with Maricopa County at all. MCSO embodies all of the problems with the 287(g) program, including racial profiling, haphazard and counterproductive arrests, declines in public safety and insufficient federal oversight. The federal government should terminate the program in Maricopa County and nationwide.”

The following can be attributed to Alessandra Soler Meetze, Director of the ACLU of Arizona:

“Sheriff Arpaio is one of the most extreme examples of a law enforcement official abusing his power and operating well outside the Constitution. His conduct points to the wholesale failure of the federal government to engage in oversight and monitoring of how local authorities use and abuse their authority under these types of agreements to enforce immigration law. Unfortunately, Maricopa County residents have paid a dear price. Simply put, DHS must end the 287(g) program now.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and 521 other local and national organizations sent a letter to President Obama in August urging that the administration terminate the 287(g) program. Since its inception, the program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforcement, civil rights and community groups because it has led to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses, including unlawful detention and deportation of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, while diverting scarce resources from traditional local law enforcement functions and distorting immigration enforcement priorities.

The letter to President Obama can be found online at:

The ACLU’s submitted testimony on the 287(g) program can be found at:

The new standardized 287(g) memorandum of agreement (MOA), Maricopa County’s MOA and the ACLU side-by-side comparison of the two can be found at:

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