Wednesday, March 4, 2009

GAO Critical of Local Enforcement of Immigration Law

The Government Accountability Office, a research tool of the Congress, studied the 267(g) program of a 1996 law that allows local police authorities to be trained in immigration law and authorized to assist federal enforcement in the pursuit of "felon" or "fugitive" undocumented immigrants. Meant as a "get-tough-on-crime" measure, ICE stretched the meaning of "felon" and "fugitive alien" to include those picked up on minor offense -- as innocuous as running a red light -- or even picking up those who just happen to be in a house when ICE came serving a warrant -- even though that individual was not mentioned in it. The GAO questioned "the effectiveness" of the program. Critics have screamed it has create Frankensteins like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. (See New York Times editorial.) Congress will take testimony on the report today. One thing it doesn't address is the extent of racial profiling in enforcement -- a charge against Sheriff Joe. (See New York Times article.)

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