Senators Should Press Napolitano Tuesday on Local Immigration Enforcement, Says ACLU

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Claire O'Brien, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Senators Should Press Napolitano Tuesday on Local Immigration Enforcement, Says ACLU

DHS Should Terminate 287(g) Program

WASHINGTON - When Secretary of Homeland
Security Janet Napolitano testifies at a Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) oversight hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary
Committee, senators should press her to terminate the 287(g) program,
said the American Civil Liberties Union today. 287(g) is a federal
program that allows certain state and local law enforcement agencies to
engage in federal immigration enforcement activities.
 

Tuesday's hearing comes on
the heels of the passage last week in Arizona of the most extreme
anti-immigrant law in the country. Several Arizona law enforcement
agencies are allowed to participate in the 287(g) program, which,
combined with the state's new law, creates a disastrous intertwining of
police with immigration enforcement in that state.
 

The ACLU has strongly
opposed the 287(g) program, believing it has led to illegal racial
profiling and civil rights abuses while diverting scarce resources from
traditional local law enforcement functions and distorting immigration
enforcement priorities. A report released earlier this month by the DHS
Office of Inspector General (OIG) affirmed the concerns with the 287(g)
program, and the ACLU calls for its immediate termination.
 

"Secretary Napolitano has
been conspicuously silent in the wake of a report which brought to light
the many failings and abuses which have occurred under the 287(g)
program. It's time for Congress to step in now that it's clear DHS
oversight has failed and call for an end to this truly dysfunctional
program," said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Senators must hold
Secretary Napolitano and DHS accountable for the untrained,
unsupervised and unmonitored state and local law officers across America
- many of whom are using federal immigration authority as a cloak to
engage in racial profiling. The program should be terminated and
de-funded."
 

The DHS OIG report found a
lack of oversight, training and other failures in the 287(g) program
and made it clear that the program does not have adequate safeguards
against racial profiling and other civil rights abuses. Many state and
local agencies accepted for the program have a documented history of
serious allegations of constitutional violations. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of
Maricopa County, Arizona has led a campaign of terror against the
immigrant community. The Department of Justice is conducting a civil
rights investigation of Sheriff Arpaio's department, and the ACLU has
sued to stop his illegal racial profiling practices.
 

"The 287(g) program tosses
American ideals of due process and equality under the law out the
window and encourages racial and ethnic profiling," said Laura W.
Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress
must ensure that DHS and its immigration enforcement programs respect
civil liberties. The current 287(g) program runs contrary to American
values and must be abandoned."
 

The Department of Homeland
Security Office of Inspector General's report is available at: www.dhs.gov/xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIG_10-63_Mar10.pdf
 

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

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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.

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