The federal government said it was revamping its deportation agreements with local sheriffs to focus on ridding the country of dangerous felons. Some North Carolina sheriffs who signed the agreements have not been asked to change their practices, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Lawyers and advocates say the controversial program, which allows sheriff’s departments to help identify illegal immigrants and begin deportation proceedings, is operating virtually unchanged – resulting in the deportation of people charged with offenses as minor as disorderly conduct and driving without a license.
The federal revamp came after Joe Arpaio, sheriff in Phoenix, drew national scrutiny by using the program to round up illegal immigrants and imprison them in tents in the desert. Most North Carolina sheriffs use a different model of the program, in which they check the immigration status of those brought into jails for other crimes, but their programs have also drawn accusations of racial profiling. The American Civil Liberties Union says the program encourages law officers to jail immigrants on minor crimes in order to check their immigration status.