President Trump is looking at local law enforcement for assistance with enforcing federal immigration law.
In an effort to breathe new life into a long-standing program, Trump wants local law enforcement around the nation to assist in enforcing immigration laws.
Trump said he wants to empower local law enforcement to act as immigration officers and help with the “investigation, apprehension, or detention” of immigrants in the country illegally.
The program allows the Feds to deputize local officers by training them and giving them federal arrest powers.
More than sixty police and sheriff’s agencies had the special authority as of 2009, applying for it as the nation’s immigration debate revved up.
Those in favor of the program say police departments can help bolster immigration enforcement and prevent criminals from being released back into their neighborhoods, but critics argue that deputizing local officers will lead to racial profiling and erode community trust in police.
Cecillia Wang, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said, “There are people like Joe Arpaio who have a certain political agenda who want to jump on the Trump bandwagon,” adding later that the Arizona sheriff was a “most vocal and shameless offender” in the program.
Sheriff Arpaio had his police force use their federal powers to carry out traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. A federal judge concluded Arpaio’s officers had racially profiled Latinos, and the lawsuit has cost county taxpayers $50 million, to date.
Traditionally, police have left it up to the feds to handle immigration enforcement but a federal law back in 1996 opened up the possibility for local agencies to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and do citizenship checks of people in local jails.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out these checks from 2006 to 2015.
Obama had wiped out all other arrest power agreements back in 2013 but did allow police agencies to check whether people jailed in their jurisdiction were citizens. If they find that an inmate is in the country illegally, they were allowed to notify federal authorities or simply hand them over to immigration officers.
Today, more than 30 local agencies participate in the jail program.
Alonzo Pena, a retired deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, once oversaw such agreements with police agencies and said some officers were using the authority in ways that didn’t match the agency’s enforcement priorities.
Pena said, “Federal officials need to closely monitor participants to ensure their actions don’t veer away from the goal of catching violent offenders and confronting national security threats. It’s hard to regulate to make sure it’s followed.”
President Trump wants the program to move forward and so do others in the law enforcement field. Even before his administration took office, two Republican county sheriffs in Massachusetts said they were starting programs.
In Texas, Jackson County sheriff A. J. “Andy” Louderback said two officers will get trained to run immigration jail checks this spring and nearby counties want to follow suit. Louderback said teaming up with federal agents will cost his agency roughly $3,000 — a small price to pay to cover for officers while they’re on a four-week training course, especially in an area struggling with human smuggling. Once the program is underway, he said immigration agents will send a daily van to pick up anyone flagged for deportation from jail.
Louderback said, “It just seems like good law enforcement to partner with federal law enforcement in this area,” he said. “It takes all of us to do this job.”
President Trump’s revitalization of this local law enforcement immigration program will undoubtedly cause more havoc and protests than his new immigration executive orders already have, and the sanctuary cities that insist on keeping the police out of immigration enforcement will be among his biggest opponents.
Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said, “There is no question that in order to do the type of mass deportation that he promised, it will require him conscripting local law enforcement agencies. It is going to balkanize things … and we’re going to see more of the extremes.”
— Steve Crosley (@woundedtroop) January 29, 2017
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