NATIONAL LATINO LEADERS: SCRAP FEDERAL PROGRAM THAT DEPUTIZES POLICE AS IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT AGENTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 6, 2017

Contact: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 46 of the nation’s most preeminent Latino advocacy organizations, calls on the federal government to end the 287(g) program, which permits the federal government to deputize inadequately trained state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law. In a resolution adopted by NHLA’s board, the coalition also committed itself to a campaign to discourage local and state jurisdictions from entering into 287(g) agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and to instead adopt community trust policies that strengthen the relationships among local law enforcement, city officials, and immigrant residents and their families.

Investigations and reports by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, among others, have found that the 287(g) program emboldens law enforcement to engage in illegal racial profiling tactics that target immigrant and Latino communities, and that there are insufficient internal controls to ensure adequate oversight of local law enforcement. For example, the Department of Justice found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona used a 287(g) agreement with ICE to engage in a pattern and practice of constitutional violations against Latinos, based on rampant racial profiling. Similar abuses were found in North Carolina by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, which used a 287(g) agreement to establish checkpoints into predominantly Latino neighborhoods, among other racial profiling tactics.

Rather than increasing public safety, 287(g) agreements foster an environment of fear and hostility that creates distrust between community members and local law enforcement. This discourages immigrants and others from coming forward when they are the victims of crime and from aiding law enforcement in the investigation of crime. Research has shown that the negative impacts on communities can be far-reaching, including poorer health outcomes.

Despite these facts, the Trump Administration is promoting 287(g) agreements, and 18 new jurisdictions have applied to join the program. Given the overwhelming evidence that 287(g) programs encourage abusive use of power against Latinos, NHLA strongly urges ICE and its Internal Advisory Committee, which is charged with reviewing and assessing pending 287(g) applications, not to move these 18 applications forward.

“One of the very few good things the Obama administration did in immigration enforcement was to slowly walk away from local law enforcement cooperation agreements because they make no sense from a policing best-practices point of view and from the serious risk of encouraging unconstitutional racial profiling against Latino residents of the country. Our local police have more important things to do than trying to figure out the complexities of U.S. immigration law and deciding who has permission to stay. The 287(g) program nurtures excessive policing, loss of confidence in our police and our courts, and a disdain for our constitutional principle that group suspicion is unlawful. Latinos know racial profiling very well. And they know that 287(g) has no place in law enforcement,” said Juan Cartagena, Chair of NHLA’s Criminal Justice Working Group and President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“The 287(g) program exists to make politicians feel good about themselves while wasting taxpayer money, violating the constitutional rights of people of color, and failing to make communities any safer. This program must end, and if the Trump administration insists on pursuing it, we will encourage jurisdictions one-by-one not to participate,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, Chair of NHLA and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

“Law enforcement professionals know that cooperation between local police and ICE simply leads to an inevitable reduction in public safety; it can also trigger significant and costly legal liability for misconduct,” said Thomas A. Saenz, Vice Chair of NHLA and President and General Counsel of MALDEF. “When elected officials, including sheriffs, enter into these agreements, they are sacrificing their constituents’ safety to the Trump Administration’s nativist agenda; the Latino community will not support, in any way, such a devil’s bargain.”

"While the White House may be focused on doubling down on bad immigration policies, we are going to do everything within our power to ensure that state and local governments refuse to get entangled in a federal program that increases racial profiling and causes immeasurable harm to community trust and public safety," said José Calderón, Co-Chair of NHLA’s Immigration Committee and President of the Hispanic Federation.

“Expanding the 287(g) program would harm immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and trafficking, by pushing them further into the shadows and reinforcing their fear of deportation when reporting crimes to local law enforcement agencies,” said Patricia Tototzintle, Co-Chair of NHLA’s Latina Task Force and CEO of Casa de Esperanza. “If immigrant victims and witnesses do not trust local law enforcement this not only further endangers them, but undermines overall public safety in the community.”

“The essential ingredient of a constructive relationship between local police forces and the communities they are supposed to serve and protect is TRUST. The collaborative agreements between the federal government and local police forces on immigration policy matters, known as 287 (g) agreements, lead to the opposite of TRUST. For this sole reason, these agreements should be rejected. As taxpayers, all immigrants deserve the benefits of police forces they can trust on all matters of public safety,” said Oscar Chacon, member of NHLA’s Immigration Committee and Executive Director of Alianza Americas.

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