Some 34 state and local law enforcement agencies in 15 states are getting special training and high-tech tools from the U.S. government to determine whether criminal suspects are in the country legally, reports Stateline.org. Another 77 agencies have applied for the so-called 287 (g) program. It is one of the few ways states and localities can help crack down on illegal immigration, a federal duty.
Deputizing local officers to help enforce federal immigration laws draws critics who question whether it could hamper police officers' ability to do their core duties, because it could scare off immigrants from reporting crime and could lead to racial profiling. Those concerns are a big reason the program has been a politically loaded issue in some areas. Some activists worry that the 287 (g) program will discourage immigrants from talking to all police officers, even though in Alabama, for example, the state police are the only ones that, in effect, can work as immigration authorities.