Posted by on June 05, 2013 in Blog

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the appropriations bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2014. The bill contains a provision allocating $44 million for a discredited program known as 287(g) that allows local law enforcement to effectively function as immigration officers. Three representatives, Democrats Jared Polis (pictured left) of Colorado and Judy Chu and Tony Cardenas, both of California, have offered an amendment that would remove funding for 287(g) from the appropriations bill. The amendment would reallocate $4.4 million to DHS’ Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and return the rest to the Treasury. We encourage you to call your representatives today to urge them to vote for the amendment and against racial profiling.

The 287(g) program’s potential for abuse has been seen most clearly in Maricopa County, Arizona, and its bombastically anti-immigrant sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Under the program, local law enforcement entities reach an agreement with DHS that requires a minimal training course before officers are deputized as federal immigrations officers, authorized to check the immigration status of people they come into contact with and detain those found to be in violation of the law. In Maricopa County, as in jurisdictions in North Carolina, Georgia, and other states, 287(g) was found to be a catalyst for racial profiling. In an investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Justice Department concluded that the Office routinely conducted sweeps of Latino neighborhoods to find potential deportees, pulled over Latino drivers at ten times the rate for white drivers, and that the Office’s treatment of Latinos poisoned the relationship between the authorities and Latinos in Maricopa County. Furthermore, 287(g) takes its largest toll on non-violent immigrants, with 33% of those caught through the program being pulled over in traffic stops. Very few violent criminals have been deported through 287(g). Finally, DHS itself asked for significantly less money for the problem than Congress is attempting to allocate, arguing that the implementation of a similar program, Secure Communities, would obviate the need for 287(g).

287(g) has led to racial profiling wherever it has been implemented because it empowers police officers that lack proper training to do the work of federal immigration authorities. Though most of the brunt of 287(g) falls on Latino communities, there are thousands of Arab immigrants in the US that could be effected, and Arab Americans know well the injustices of racial, ethnic and religious profiling. Cutting funding for 287(g) would send a powerful message that racial profiling will not be tolerated in immigration enforcement, and that that money is better spent protecting the civil rights of Americans and immigrants alike. Contact your representatives today to urge them to vote in favor of the Polis-Chu-Cardenas amendment and against racial profiling.

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