Over 60 Members of Congress Push President Biden and DHS to End Programs that Conscript Local Police to Work as Federal Immigration Enforcement

February 12, 2021 9:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Over 60 members of Congress, led by Reps. Schakowsky, Quigley, and Espaillat, sent a letter today to new Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the agency to end Immigration and Customs Enforcement programs that tap state and local law enforcement to conduct federal immigration enforcement. The letter specifically outlines the need for the termination of the 287(g) program, the Secure Communities program, and the use of ICE detainers. The letter comes as ICE continues to move to deport immigrants to dangerous conditions, including children, flouting the Biden administration’s deportation moratorium and stymying its reform efforts.

The letter states: “The current immigration enforcement regime depends on the time and resources of local law enforcement agencies — at the expense of public safety for all and in particular for immigrant communities. The 287(g) and Secure Communities programs and the use of detainers turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation, co-opt local resources into questionable, racially discriminatory purposes, strip communities of safety and public trust, and subject localities and the federal government to liability.”

The letter was endorsed by the ACLU, National Immigrant Justice Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Indivisible, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, National Immigration Project (NIPNLG), and United We Dream.

Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, said:

“When local police act hand in glove with ICE everyone is less safe. The possibility of being separated from your family for reporting a crime means that people are less likely to seek local police protection in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. It also means immigrant workers and their families are afraid to get tested, vaccinated, and treated for COVID-19 out of fear of local police. President Biden and his administration should move decisively to end programs that tap local police for federal immigration enforcement.”

Nithya Nathan-Pineau, policy attorney & strategist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said:

“When local law enforcement officials engage in immigration enforcement it encourages discriminatory practices such as racial profiling which cause disproportionate harm to Black and Brown immigrant communities. Ending the entanglement between the immigration system and local law enforcement is a critical step towards racial justice and equity. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center encourages the Biden administration and Director Mayorkas to dismantle these enforcement programs to prevent further harm and violence to Black and Brown immigrant community members around the country.”

Nayna Gupta, associate director of policy at National Immigrant Justice Center, said:

“Programs of cooperation between the federal government and local police to enforce civil immigration laws raise serious civil rights concerns. They lead to rampant racial profiling and unlawful police practices against Black and Brown communities. They also undermine important steps local governments around the country have taken to protect immigrants, who bring vibrancy to our communities. If this administration is committed to remedying racial injustice and protecting public safety, then it must terminate these programs in their entirety.”

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