GAO Questions Local Police Immigration Enforcement



A Congressional report being issued today questions the effectiveness of a federal program criticized by immigrant advocacy groups that deputizes police officers as immigration agents, reports the New York Times. The Government Accountability Office says the U.S. has failed to determine how many of the thousands of people deported were the kind of violent felons it was devised to root out. Some law enforcers have deported immigrants “who have committed minor crimes, such as carrying an open container of alcohol,” the report said. At least four agencies referred minor traffic offenders for deportation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered a review of the program.

Known as 287(g), a reference to the section of a 1996 law authorizing it, the program has been promoted by immigration officials as an important tool in deporting serious criminals. It has also enjoyed the strong support of some local law enforcement agencies. In Phoenix’ Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio operates the largest program, with 160 trained deputies. GAO analyzed 29 of the 67 local law enforcement agencies in the program and found that they arrested 43,000 illegal immigrants last year.

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