Federal Homeland Security officials will make it clear in new guidelines that a federal program that lets local police enforce federal immigration laws is primarily for going after immigrants who commit serious crimes, reports the Arizona Republic. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he will likely drop out of the program if immigration officials attempt to curtail his enforcement powers, including his ability to arrest immigrants for merely being in the U.S. illegally.
That wouldn’t be the end of Arpaio’s controversial immigration crackdowns, which have led to allegations of racial profiling. Arpaio said that even if he drops out of the federal program he will continue arresting illegal immigrants under the state’s human smuggling law and employer sanctions laws. He would turn over any suspected illegal immigrants his deputies encounter to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials even if they haven’t committed any offense other than being in the country illegally. ICE officials are rewriting the rules of the program, known as 287(g), in response to a federal report that found the program lacks clear goals about what kinds of criminals should be targeted.