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Immigration Enforcement Partnership Program a Mess

A program that encourages federal/local cooperation in immigration enforcement is being poorly managed by ICE while local law enforcement breaks the rules.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

March 12, 2011 - 12:00 am
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For instance, local sheriffs and county officials have wide discretion to decide whether to detain only those immigrants wanted for specific offenses or check the status of every immigrant with which police come into contact.

This isn’t how the partnership was meant to work.

For instance, ICE is supposed to set the priorities and direction. That agency has already decided that its enforcement priority in all of its operations is arresting and deporting illegal immigrants who had — in addition to the civil infraction of unlawfully entering the United States — also committed serious crimes such as robbery, rape, and assault. It’s a question of where you choose to allot scarce resources.

Either the local and state law enforcement agencies didn’t get the memo, or they got it and disregarded it. According to the report, about half of the immigrants who were detained for deportation under the 287 (g) program had committed only minor crimes or traffic violations. That much was predictable. The people who run local and state law enforcement agencies don’t care about the big picture of helping ICE get rid of so-called criminal aliens. They’re just as likely to want to get rid of all illegal immigrants as part of a quixotic mission to magically return their communities and neighborhoods to what they looked like 50 years ago.

And even though ICE is supposed to ensure that the 287 (g) program is implemented uniformly around the country, the report found that what individual law enforcement agencies did and how they did it varied widely from place to place. They’re making up their own rules — and, it seems, making them up as they go.

This story will continue. We’re just getting started. Expect more racial profiling. More trips to the woodshed. More lawsuits. The 287 (g) program is a complete mess, brought to us courtesy of a dysfunctional partnership that was cursed from the start.

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Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union Tribune, a nationally syndicated columnist, a frequent lecturer, and a regular contributor to CNN.com.
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