500 Groups Urge Obama to Halt Immigration Police Program

Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2009

A coalition of advocacy groups sent a letter to President Obama last week demanding that the administration end a program that allows local police to enforce federal immigration law.

The program, known as 287(g), deputizes police to turn over suspects or criminals to immigration authorities for possible deportation.

Immigrant rights groups said the program has led to civil rights violations and racial profiling.

“Racial profiling and other civil rights abuses by the local law enforcement agencies that have sought out 287(g) powers have compromised public safety, while doing nothing to solve the immigration crisis,” the letter states. “The program has worked counter to community policing goals by eroding the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities and diverted already reduced law enforcement resources from their core mission.”

The letter was sent by the National Immigration Law Center and includes signatures by more than 500 local and national groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

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In July, the Department of Homeland Security announced an expansion of 287(g) and some changes, including a new agreement that all participating agencies must sign. The agreement requires that police agencies focus their efforts on criminals who pose a threat to public safety, with less emphasis on those who commit minor crimes.

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