A project of the Center for Community Change

Continuing (and Expanding) 287g: Why we can’t afford more of the same

287g

Last week, it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security was signing 11 new local law enforcement agencies onto the program known as 287(g). The program grants local law enforcement agents the authority to enforce federal immigration laws. The destructive program cultivates a culture of fear among immigrants and communities of color, pours resources into the rounding up of immigrants instead of the protection of public safety and has been condemned by everyone from independent think-thanks to the Police Foundation.

So why is DHS continuing this failed program? While the announcement was made alongside the pledge of a long overdue “review” of the program, it is a mistake to expand any failed enforcement program in the absence of satisfactory comprehensive immigration legislation.

Let me be clear, this is the program that gives Sheriff Joe “I don’t have to answer to the DOJ” Arpaio the authority to round up Latinos like cattle and ignore his commitment to the actual protection of the public. This is the program under which Juana Villegas de la Paz was shackled to her hospital bed while giving birth to her child. This is the program that was found to “create a climate of racial profiling and insecurity” by a leading national university.

I am disappointed that the announcement of a review of this program was accompanied by an ill-advised expansion. This, more than anything, points to the need for a FULL OVERHAUL of immigration policy. We cannot continue failed programs in the absence of comprehensive reform.

As an editorial in the NY Times today stated:

Enforcement-only schemes were the rage back when anti-immigrant demagogues were in full roar and Bush officials wanted to show how tough they were. They bring us no closer to an immigration system that works. Mr. Obama promised fresh ideas on immigration reform. So far we don’t see them.

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