Friday, March 6, 2009

New ICE Regulations May End Partnership with Sheriff Joe's

ICE's revision of the 287(g) program, whereby ICE partners with local police authorities to enforce immigration laws, may impel Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ, to take his posse and start a new game in rounding up the undocumented. The new regs will focus the program more strictly on its originial intent -- to assist ICE in rounding up felons (rapists, murders, and kidnappers) who are also undocumented. This would put a crimp in Sheriff Joe's opus operandi, casting a net throughout a neighborhood -- usually Hispanic -- and hauling in everyone for minor violations. Those here with proper proof of legal entry are held in Sheriff Joe's jail til they can be turned over to ICE for deportation. His is the largest 287(g) contract in the country -- and the most active. He has publicly stated he likes the way things are and sees no reason to change. He promises to continue his raids and round-ups, using state laws on human smuggling or employer sanctions. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Evangelical Hispanics generally have been quiet on public issues, often following the lead of their Anglo friends especially on social issues. But the immigration debate over the last few years has gradually brought them out of their isolation and now there are signs that they will be more assertive for comprehensive immigration reform. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and the Hispanic Congressional Caucus are sponsoring a number of church events to highlight the human costs of deportation and appeal to the compassion of the nation. The target of this exercise in 17 cities is to send a message to President Barack Obama to make good on his campaign promises and make immigration reform a priority, notwithstanding the economic crisis. Catholics have long been associated with an immigration reform founded on family reunification and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. But in Providence, RI, New York City and now Atlanta the Hispanic Evangelicals have stepped forward with enthusiasm and in large numbers. (See Chicago Tribune article.) Hopefully, their hurt will influence their Protestant brethern in the conservative, Evangelical, and fiercely nativist South .

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