New immigration enforcement agreements frustrate Coloradans

The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday that it had decided to standardize so-called 287(g) agreements rather than cancel them. The agreements grant broad immigration enforcement powers to local law enforcement agencies. In Colorado, and across the nation, immigrant rights groups responded with frustration.

The controversial program had previously been suspended by the department. Critics say the program is abused by many local law enforcement agencies, and promotes racial profiling. The poster child for misuse of the program has been Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famous for his sweeps of Latino neighborhoods and his penchant for requiring detainees to wear pink underwear (and who is, incidentally, said to be miffed about earning a modified 287(g) agreement this time around, in a nod toward his alleged abuses).

According to ICE data, 55 jurisdictions have signed the new, standardized agreements, including Colorado’s El Paso Sheriff’s Office. It also said 12 other agreements await signatures, including one with the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

What’s different about the new agreements? Here’s the ICE spiel:

To address concerns that individuals may be arrested for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings, the new agreement requires participating local law enforcement agencies to pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody.

But an ACLU report released last week, documenting abuses of the 287(g) program in Cobb, Georgia, argued that minor changes like this are not enough to eliminate racial profiling.

Late Friday afternoon, Julien Ross, executive director of theColorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, released a statement arguing that the new 287(g) program “does nothing to bring us closer to fixing our broken immigration system.”

Any program that has local police acting as immigration enforcement creates widespread fear- victims and witnesses avoid the police, making all of us less safe. Moreover, racial profiling abounds, with people targeted for the way they look or speak.

At the end of his statement, Ross made a pitch for immigration reform instead of detention. “The way we strengthen the rights of American-born workers,” he wrote, “is to make sure there is not a pool of workers with few, if any, rights living within our midst.”

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Katie Redding

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