Over 500 Organizations Demand White House End Flawed State And Local Immigration Enforcement Program

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
August 27, 2009 12:00 am

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Federal 287(g) Program Results In Illegal Profiling And Threatens Public Safety, Say Groups

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and 520 other local and national organizations sent a letter to President Obama this week demanding that the administration terminate the 287(g) program that allows certain state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in federal immigration enforcement activities. The fundamentally flawed program has been associated with serious civil rights abuses and public safety concerns.

“The 287(g) program encourages racial profiling, diverts scarce police resources and puts everyone’s safety at risk,” said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “State and local police should not be transformed into federal immigration agents – particularly through a program known for cursory oversight and insufficient training. President Obama should end the program immediately.”

Local organizations that signed the letter will host vigils, marches and other activities across the country today and tomorrow condemning the administration’s decision to expand the 287(g) program and asking that the administration terminate the program.

Since its inception, the 287(g) program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforcement and community groups because it has led to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses, including the 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.

This past April, the Police Foundation, a leading nonpartisan, research and training nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public safety, reported that many sheriffs and police chiefs across the country disapprove of the local immigration enforcement program. According to the Police Foundation study, law enforcement executives believe that “immigration enforcement by local police undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation and exacerbates fear in communities already distrustful of police.”

“State and local police do not pull drivers over for tax law violations; likewise, they should not pull drivers over for immigration law violations,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The 287(g) program has proven to be a failure – resulting in rampant illegal profiling by local police under the cloak of federal immigration enforcement power. Department of Homeland Security needs to terminate the 287(g) program.”

ACLU affiliates across the country have reported problems and complaints about local law enforcement agencies with 287(g) agreements engaging in profiling and harassing Latino communities. Some of the most serious complaints regard abuses by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, which has one of the largest 287(g) programs in the country. These massive abuses have been fueled by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s federal authority under the program and the absence of ICE monitoring. In July 2008, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit, Ortega v. Arpaio, against Arpaio and his department challenging the illegal racial profiling of Latinos in Maricopa County.

The letter to President Obama can be found online at: https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/371/images/LETTER_TO_PRESIDENT_20090825133229.pdf

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: www.aclu.org/immigrants/local/40350lgl20090716.html

More information about Ortega v. Arpaio can be found at:

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