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Corruption Chronicles

Combating Illegal Immigration Locally

City officials across the country are finally beginning to enroll in a 10-year-old federal program that trains local police to crack down on criminal illegal aliens and, not surprisingly, pro immigrant groups have labeled them racist.

A 1996 amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act allows state and local law enforcement officers nationwide to participate in a program that trains them to identify, process and detain immigration offenders encountered during regular, daily law-enforcement activities.

Known as 287 (g), the program is run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and was designed to effectively multiply the forces of immigration officials through enhanced cooperation and communication with state and local law enforcement.

Under fire from immigrant advocacy groups, police departments nationwide have for years resisted enrolling in the federal program and some–Los Angeles and Houston among them–have even created orders prohibiting officers from inquiring about a suspect’s immigration status. Terrorists in the country illegally and recent surges in crimes committed by illegal aliens have motivated local municipalities to change course, however.

Several law enforcement agencies have already teamed up with the federal government to tackle the serious illegal immigration problem and more are sure to follow. Graduates of the 287 (g) program include the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Alabama State Police. In the next few months ICE will train Los Angeles County Jail officers to process criminal aliens for deportation.

This week, the mayor of an Arkansas city said that his officers will soon enroll in 287 (g). Rogers Mayor Steve Womack said he and his constituents are fed up with the toll illegal immigrants have taken on his city and he wants to take action. The announcement didn’t sit well with immigration advocates who say that area law enforcement officers should not get involved in federal issues because it will lead to racial profiling. In fact, the head of a local Hispanic group insists illegal immigration is not a local issue.


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