Senators Should Press Napolitano Tuesday On Local Immigration Enforcement, Says ACLU

April 26, 2010 12:00 am

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DHS Should Terminate 287(g) Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2010

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WASHINGTON – When Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testifies at a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversight hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators should press her to terminate the 287(g) program, said the American Civil Liberties Union today. 287(g) is a federal program that allows certain state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in federal immigration enforcement activities.

Tuesday’s hearing comes on the heels of the passage last week in Arizona of the most extreme anti-immigrant law in the country. Several Arizona law enforcement agencies are allowed to participate in the 287(g) program, which, combined with the state’s new law, creates a disastrous intertwining of police with immigration enforcement in that state.

The ACLU has strongly opposed the 287(g) program, believing it has led to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses while diverting scarce resources from traditional local law enforcement functions and distorting immigration enforcement priorities. A report released earlier this month by the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) affirmed the concerns with the 287(g) program, and the ACLU calls for its immediate termination.

“Secretary Napolitano has been conspicuously silent in the wake of a report which brought to light the many failings and abuses which have occurred under the 287(g) program. It’s time for Congress to step in now that it’s clear DHS oversight has failed and call for an end to this truly dysfunctional program,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Senators must hold Secretary Napolitano and DHS accountable for the untrained, unsupervised and unmonitored state and local law officers across America – many of whom are using federal immigration authority as a cloak to engage in racial profiling. The program should be terminated and de-funded.”

The DHS OIG report found a lack of oversight, training and other failures in the 287(g) program and made it clear that the program does not have adequate safeguards against racial profiling and other civil rights abuses. Many state and local agencies accepted for the program have a documented history of serious allegations of constitutional violations.Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona has led a campaign of terror against the immigrant community. The Department of Justice is conducting a civil rights investigation of Sheriff Arpaio’s department, and the ACLU has sued to stop his illegal racial profiling practices.

“The 287(g) program tosses American ideals of due process and equality under the law out the window and encourages racial and ethnic profiling,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Congress must ensure that DHS and its immigration enforcement programs respect civil liberties. The current 287(g) program runs contrary to American values and must be abandoned.”

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General’s report is available at: www.dhs.gov/xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIG_10-63_Mar10.pdf

The ACLU’s submitted testimony on the 287(g) program can be found at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/gen/39062leg20090304.html

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