Over 500 Organizations Demand White House End Flawed State and Local Immigration Enforcement Program

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Maria Archuleta, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Over 500 Organizations Demand White House End Flawed State and Local Immigration Enforcement Program

Federal 287(g) Program Results in Illegal Profiling and Threatens Public Safety, Say Groups

WASHINGTON - The
American Civil Liberties Union and 520 other local and national
organizations sent a letter to President Obama this week demanding that
the administration terminate the 287(g) program that allows certain
state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in federal
immigration enforcement activities. The fundamentally flawed program
has been associated with serious civil rights abuses and public safety
concerns.

"The 287(g) program encourages
racial profiling, diverts scarce police resources and puts everyone's
safety at risk," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU
Immigrants' Rights Project. "State and local police should not be
transformed into federal immigration agents - particularly through a
program known for cursory oversight and insufficient training.
President Obama should end the program immediately."

Local organizations that signed the
letter will host vigils, marches and other activities across the
country today and tomorrow condemning the administration's decision to
expand the 287(g) program and asking that the administration terminate
the program.

Since its inception, the 287(g)
program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law
enforcement and community groups because it has led to illegal racial
profiling and civil rights abuses, including the unlawful detention and
deportation of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, while diverting
scarce resources from traditional local law enforcement functions and
distorting immigration enforcement priorities.

This past April, the Police
Foundation, a leading nonpartisan, research and training nonprofit
organization dedicated to improving public safety, reported that many
sheriffs and police chiefs across the country disapprove of the local
immigration enforcement program. According to the Police Foundation
study, law enforcement executives believe that "immigration enforcement
by local police undermines their core public safety mission, diverts
scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation
and exacerbates fear in communities already distrustful of police." 

"State and local police do not pull
drivers over for tax law violations; likewise, they should not pull
drivers over for immigration law violations," said Joanne Lin, ACLU
Legislative Counsel. "The 287(g) program has proven to be a failure -
resulting in rampant illegal profiling by local police under the cloak
of federal immigration enforcement power. Department of Homeland
Security needs to terminate the 287(g) program."
 
ACLU affiliates across the country
have reported problems and complaints about local law enforcement
agencies with 287(g) agreements engaging in profiling and harassing
Latino communities. Some of the most serious complaints regard abuses
by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, which has one of
the largest 287(g) programs in the country. These massive abuses have
been fueled by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's federal authority
under the program and the absence of ICE monitoring. In July 2008, the
ACLU filed a class action lawsuit, Ortega v. Arpaio, against Arpaio and his department challenging the illegal racial profiling of Latinos in Maricopa County.

The letter to President Obama can be found online at: salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/371/images/LETTER_TO_PRESIDENT_20090825133229.pdf

The ACLU's submitted testimony on the 287(g) program can be found at:
www.aclu.org/immigrants/gen/39062leg20090304.html

The new standardized 287(g)
memorandum of agreement (MOA), Maricopa County's MOA and the ACLU
side-by-side comparison of the two can be found at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/local/40350lgl20090716.html

More information about Ortega v. Arpaio can be found at:
www.aclu.org/immigrants/gen/35998lgl20080716.html

###

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

More in: