Arizona immigration law has echoes of controversial federal act
Elements of the Arizona immigration law echo 1995's controversial Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gave some local law enforcement officials the authority to identify and detain immigration offenders.
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A 287(g) program run by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement – called the Criminal Alien Program – seeks to ensure that "criminal aliens" serving time in federal, state, or local jails are not released into the community upon completion of their sentences, notes a September report by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity at the University of California at Berkeley.Skip to next paragraph
The 287(g) program "tacitly encourages local police to arrest Hispanics for petty offenses,” the report concludes.
The Justice Strategies study comes to similar conclusions: that 287(g)'s central targets were traffic violators and day laborers – suggesting that it was less a crime-fighting tool then a means of rounding up illegal immigrants based on ethnicity.
“The 287(g) program rests on a faulty assumption that the civil immigration mandate can be seamlessly absorbed into the crime-control mission shared by criminal-justice agencies,” writes Shahani.
Such claims are unwarranted, says Mr. Mehlman. “287(g) does not rely on profiling, but on training police officers to identify people who are in the country illegally, using the sort of object information that police use everyday to form reasonable suspicion that laws are being violated,” he says.
In this way, observers say, 287(g) is different from SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law: 287(g) agreements provide training for officers.
“SB 1070 and 287(g) laws are not precisely comparable,” says Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “287(g) agreements put officers through a four-week training and they get the authority to arrest people for immigration violations. SB 1070 simply has the officers ask people about their immigration status.”
The 287(g) laws were revamped in 2009 to address concerns that individuals would be arrested for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings.
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