This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chose to sever its 287(g) immigration enforcement partnership with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) based on extensive findings by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that MCSO had engaged in a pattern and practice of civil rights violations. The Department of Justice found overwhelming evidence of discrimination against Latinos in this jurisdiction. Sadly, these findings demonstrate the potential of these federal/state partnerships to serve as a conduit for racially-biased policing that devastates families and communities. “Tying federal civil immigration enforcement to local criminal law enforcement is misguided. It makes our communities less secure, endangers parental rights and family unity, and undermines the federal government’s ability to focus enforcement on truly dangerous criminals,” said Maria M. Odom, CLINIC’s Executive Director. This is particularly true in states like Alabama, which have sought to criminalize the everyday lives and activities of immigrants. Programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities can operate as a force-multiplier for these state efforts.
The DOJ "observed that MCSO has implemented its immigration enforcement program in a way that has created a 'wall of distrust' betweeen MCSO officers and Maricopa County's Latino residents -- a wall of distrust that has significantly compromised MCSO's ability to provide police protection to Maricopa County's Latino residents." [emphasis added] CLINIC welcomes the many steps DHS has announced it will take to ensure that ICE's immigration enforcement programs "are not inadvertently a part of constitutional abuses" as ICE Director John Morton stated in his letter to Maricopa County officials. CLINIC reiterates its call for substantial reforms of the Secure Communities program throughout the United States and calls upon DHS to freeze Secure Communities until these reforms are undertaken.