Cops as Immigration Enforcers–Regaining Traction?

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President Trump wants to revive the 287(g) program that deputizes local law enforcement to help federal immigration agents cast a wider net. Nowhere was it put into practice more aggressively than in Maricopa County by former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, NPR reports. Arpaio, who was ousted last year, became renowned for his severe and sometimes demeaning methodology with prisoners — pink underwear and thick, black and white horizontal prison stripes for men, and chain gangs for women. The 287(g) program was created in 1996; local law enforcement agencies were slow to participate. After Sept. 11, 2001, the pace picked up a bit; a few dozen local law enforcement agencies designated a handful of officers to pull double duty as deputized immigration agents.

Arpaio estimates his deputies were responsible for 25 percent of all the unauthorized immigrants detained in 287(g) nationally. His aggressive enforcement created an uproar in the county’s Hispanic neighborhoods. The ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund sued Arpaio, accusing him of racial profiling on a mass scale. A federal judge agreed, and participation in 287(g) around the U.S. began to wither. One place it might be revived is Pinal County in south central Arizona. Mark Lamb, the newly elected sheriff, is open to the idea. The program “allows us to hold those people until ICE can come in and take custody of [them],” Lamb says. “It does help us because we’re able to protect our community and not put people that are committing crimes back out on the street. It’s this incarceration side of the program that’s proved most effective: local deputies trained to question prisoners in jails. The Department of Homeland Security reports it has helped identify hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants.

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