AUGUST 27, 2009
As prosecutors seek the death penalty for an illegal immigrant gangbanger who murdered a high school football star a day after being released from prison, hundreds of Latino rights groups demand ending the program that should have saved the teen jock’s life.
The local-federal partnership known as 287(g) calls on local police to notify federal immigration authorities whenever they arrest an illegal immigrant. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) then takes custody and begins deportation proceedings to rid the U.S. of violent criminals living in the country illegally.
Had the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department followed the plan, prep running back Jamiel Shaw would be playing college football this fall. Instead he was gunned down by a renowned violent street gang member who had been released—rather than deported—after serving time for assault with a deadly weapon.
Shaw’s parents have sued the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, which operates the county jails, of wrongful death, civil rights violations and of breaching the section of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act that outlines the immigration enforcement agreement between federal and local authorities.
This week a coalition of influential Latino and civil rights organizations are demanding the Obama Administration kill the local-federal agreement that could have saved Shaw and many other crime victims across the nation. They claim it gives local police a green light to commit racial profiling and civil rights abuses.
In a stern two-page letter to the president, the army of immigrant rights organizations urges terminating the 287(g) program because local law enforcement agencies nationwide are using it to target communities of color, specifically Latinos. This, in turn, has compromised public safety and done nothing to solve the immigration crisis.
The groups applaud Obama’s recent remarks acknowledging the country’s long history of African Americans and Latinos being disproportionately stopped by law enforcement but claim the 287(g) program—recently expanded by the administration—exacerbates exactly that type of racial profiling.
The letter was signed by more than 500 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Guatemalan Immigrant Movement, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras and La Raza Centro Legal. Many of the groups will host vigils, marches and other protests this month to condemn and demand an end to 287(g).
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