President Obama is facing growing pressure from some civil-rights, labor, religious and pro-immigrant groups to end a program that lets local authorities enforce the country’s immigration laws, reports the Arizona Republic. This week, hundreds of groups issued a call to terminate the program, saying it can lead to racial profiling and isn’t an effective anti-immigration tool. To address some concerns, the Obama administration narrowed the program’s focus last month to target dangerous criminals and not illegal immigrants who haven’t committed other crimes. But it also expanded the program to more law-enforcement agencies.
The most controversial participant is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, who said yesterday he is close to signing a new contract that will let his deputies and jail officials continue arresting and identifying illegal immigrants. Arpaio had threatened to bow out of the program after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano revamped it amid allegations that Arpaio was using the program to go after low-level illegal immigrants instead of dangerous criminals. Arpaio faces a Justice Department investigation into allegations of civil-rights violations tied to his participation in the program.