Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
Heather Mac Donald:
Congress acknowledged the need to bring local police officers into immigration enforcement ten years ago, when it passed section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That section addresses the mismatch between the size of the illegal-alien population — currently estimated at around 12 million — and the number of federal immigration officers assigned to apprehending those illegals — about 2000 agents. As the Heritage Foundation’s James Jay Carafano observes, the Department of Homeland Security cannot even deport all the criminal aliens released from prisons, much less find them in the first place.
In the hope of rectifying that imbalance, Section 287(g) allows cops on the beat to be trained as immigration agents, so that they can investigate, arrest, and take custody of illegal aliens with the same authority as a federal agent. It wasn’t until after 9/11, however, that any local police agency requested training under 287(g). The stigma against immigration law enforcement was too great; no local force wanted to risk the wrath of illegal alien advocates.
The Florida state troopers were the first to break the taboo. Stung by the discovery that several of the 9/11 hijackers had used Florida as a planning base for the attack, and aware that four of the hijackers had been stopped for traffic violations in various states while out of immigration status, Florida worked out an agreement with the INS (the predecessor to ICE) to train as immigration agents the 35 state troopers who participate in federal terrorism task forces.
Since then, a handful of other law-enforcement agencies have signed immigration-enforcement agreements with ICE. Several dozen Alabama state troopers use their immigration expertise during routine traffic stops to spot fake identification documents and other signs of immigration violations and to make arrests if appropriate. Jail deputies in Arizona and in California’s Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties screen inmates for immigration status to make sure that illegal aliens are not released back into the local population after serving their time.
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