Sheriff Joe Arpaio Loses His Immigration-Enforcement Status.

Great news! After years of conducting immigration raids with the imprimatur of federal authorities, it looks like Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be stripped of his ability to do so, as the Department of Homeland Security has revised his 287(g) agreement.

The 287(g) provision is touted as a way of allowing local authorities to crack down on criminals who are also illegal immigrants. But in reality, the provision has led to racial profiling and sweeping raids conducted by overreaching officials like Arpaio. Now, rather than using his 287(g) agreement as license for
"street-level immigration enforcement," Arpaio will merely be allowed
to screen county jail inmates to determine their immigration status.

I wrote about the 287(g) provision in TAP's September issue:

But in the 66 local police departments that participate in the 287(g) program, there is evidence that actual crime-fighting is suffering because of the focus on immigration enforcement. Several prominent police chiefs have called for 287(g) to be repealed. Not only does the program push them to investigate the citizenship status of every person who appears to be Hispanic, it deters undocumented immigrants from reaching out to authorities when they are victims of or witnesses to crime. Police officers' core mission may be to ensure public safety, but 287(g) sends the message that the mission doesn't extend to Hispanics. "How can you police a community that will not talk to you?" one participating police chief asks, in a report on 287(g) by the Police Foundation. And since all the time spent checking documents is time not spent on other law-enforcement priorities, everybody loses--not just the Hispanics who are profiled.

ICE officials have said the program is designed to target "serious criminal activity." But a Government Accountability Office report on 287(g) released earlier this year found that in more than half of the 29 jurisdictions it investigated, officers expressed concerns that 287(g) was being used to deport immigrants who had only committed minor crimes, such as traffic violations. Along with local advocacy groups, it called on the federal government to amend the program.

Indeed, The Arizona Republic determined that more than half of the immigrants picked up in Arpaio's sweeps for immigration violations had not committed another crime. It's great that DHS is stepping up to amend the 287(g) program, at least as it applies to some overreaching authorities like Arpaio. Maybe DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who courted Arpaio's endorsement for her first run for governor, is finally standing up to the sheriff.

--Ann Friedman

UPDATE: Apparently the new agreement may not have been signed yet.

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