Last year delivered some milestones in U.S. immigration history – including a historic demographic shift, fueled by immigration, as the children of nonwhite parents became the majority of babies born in this country. Also for the first time, more than 100,000 young people who arrived in the United States as minors are living out of the shadows after obtaining temporary legal status through deferred action, a new program that lets young undocumented immigrants who qualify live and work legally in the U.S. And in late June, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Arizona v. United States, upholding the most contested provision of Arizona’s trendsetting SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law. But the issue of states’ rights in setting their own immigration policies remains in flux as new controversies arise.
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Federal immigration authorities quietly announced a new policy just before Christmas that promises to ease conflicts with local law enforcement agencies while targeting violent criminals for deportation. The new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency policy mirrors what was promised four years ago when the Se Communities program was launched. ICE will review fingerprints from people arrested by local police, and it will seek custody of people believed to be in the United States illegally if they have committed a serious crime or are repeat offenders. In practice, ICE has detained and deported thousands of people with no criminal record or who have been arrested for petty offenses such as traffic violations. In Sonoma County, 47 percent of the people turned over to immigration agents in the first year of the program hadn’t been convicted of the crimes that landed them in jail.
The Obama administration has spent nearly four years trying to convince states and local law enforcement that the federal immigration program known as Se Communities is narrowly targeted to deporting dangerous criminals. It’s not. And late last month, the administration finally conceded as much when it announced long-overdue reforms that should restore some credibility and fairness to the controversial program. Se Communities was created to identify “dangerous criminal aliens” for deportation. Local law enforcement agencies were supposed to send the fingerprints of arrestees to federal immigration officials, who would run them through national crime databases. If an arrestee turned out to be an illegal immigrant with a serious criminal background, a “detainer” could be issued requesting that he be held for up to 48 hours so that federal officials could take him into custody.
A new study revealed that a program that was once intended to protect Davidson County against acts of terrorism was counterproductive. The study released Wednesday was conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and it focuses on the consequences of the 287(g) program. The 287(g) program was once used by the Davidson County Sheriff’s department to enforce immigration law and allow deputies to check the immigration status of anyone brought to the jail. The report alleges that it leads to immigrants being treated differently, and to be detained often for minor infractions. According to the new study, the program makes immigrants lose trust in public safety. The study said the majority of people arrested were racially profiled and deported for minor traffic offenses.
A program that investigates the legal status of arrested illegal immigrants in Prince William County will remain in place at least through June. The jurisdiction is the only one in the U.S. to keep the 287 (g) program following efforts to cut the program in October, said Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (At-Large). The program uses trained jail personnel at the county’s Adult Detention Center in Manassas to investigate the immigration status of illegal aliens charged with crimes. The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which administers the program, looked to scale back the 287 (g) program in October. Officials in a letter told Prince William County Sheriff Glen Hill the program would be placed under review until Dec. 31. With this latest decision, the trained staff will continue to work on the program and be funded by Prince William taxpayers while working under the direction of federal customs enforcement. “This is perhaps the most
Look sharp, online Sacramento. And brush up on your Spanish: The immigration debate is set to flare up once again in Washington, D.C., but the path to citizenship may begin here in the state Capitol. Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano recently, and for the third time, introduced the TRUST Act to the California Legislature. This bill would limit state law enforcement’s participation in Se Communities, a system introduced by President George W. Bush and expanded by the Obama administration that allows federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ask local police and sheriff departments across the country to hold undocumented immigrants already in custody for the purpose of deportation. The TRUST Act passed through both houses of the Legislature last fall before Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. Now, amid rising dialogue on both sides of the aisle over immigration reform, it’s back. And Ammiano insists that the governor pay attention. “This is not something we can shy away from,”
In 2007, when Virginia’s Prince William County ordered police to check the immigration status of anyone they had “probable cause” to suspect was in the U.S. unlawfully, the impact was swift at family restaurant Ricos Tacos Moya. “Suddenly nobody showed up,” says Stacey Moya, an employee, and daughter of the owner. “Nobody was around. Not one soul. We would go hours without any customers, any clients. Nothing.” After community protests, the policy was soon watered down. In fact, police only check the status of those they arrest for a crime. Still, the stigma around the resolution stuck. Moya says one of her family’s restaurants went under. And while business at this one has picked up, it’s not the same. “Not even on weekends after church,” she says. “Nowhere near what it was before. I guess nobody likes to be around in the public that much.” Next year Congress is expected to again take up immigration reform, something it tried, but failed, to pass in 2006 and 2007. The collapse…
A part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) enforcement program is coming to an end. It’s become less relevant as the federal government rolls out the broader – and cheaper – Se Communities program around the country. It’s not being scrapped entirely, at least not yet. But there’s a possibility that the agency could phase out more 287(g) contracts with local agencies, including in California, in the months ahead. Last week, in an ICE memo announcing another record year of deportations, the agency also announced that it would not renew any of its agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies operating 287(g) task forces. These are federal-local partnerships under which local cops receive immigration enforcement training from ICE and are authorized to carry out related duties, including immigration status checks. On Dec. 31, 287(g) contracts will expire for 25 local law enforcement agencies around the country. So far, that doesn’t affect any…