Is the Department of Homeland Security going after the wrong “criminal aliens?”

LatinaLista — One of the hopes the Latino electorate had of the Obama administration was that Obama would do away with the punitive measures of illegal immigration enforcement started during the Bush years.

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One of the most egregious tactics for detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants is the use by local law enforcement of what is known as the 287(g) program. The 287(g), which empowers local law enforcement to act as federal officers in detaining undocumented immigrants and hold them over for deportation proceedings, has been the subject of much debate since lax oversight by the Department of Homeland Security allowed law enforcement officers, like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to abuse the 287(g) program.

As Latina Lista noted in an earlier post, such abuse of the program has led to racial profiling and the intimidation of people who “look” the stereotype of an undocumented immigrant.

It was widely believed, given the Obama administration’s prior actions in getting tough with DHS officers who didn’t follow protocol in implementing work site raids, that the program would be suspended. However, the opposite has resulted.

Offering stronger oversight measures, the DHS has actually expanded the program. Now, there are 67 state and local law enforcement officers who have partnered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to find and deport undocumented immigrants.

ICE attributes the removal of approximately 24,000 undocumented immigrants because of the 247(g) program. Because one of the goals of the 287(g) was apprehending those undocumented immigrants who were violent criminals, federal officials credit the program for being successful in that arena.

In fact, because of the 287(g), federal officials say that 48% more criminal aliens have been identified so far this year as was identified in 2008.

That’s a huge leap which leads many to believe that the government’s definition of a criminal alien may not be totally accurate.

Case in point: Last week, federal immigration agents arrested over 1,000 people they identified as gang members. By their own admission, they concentrated on only foreign-born.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that the arrests were focused on the foreign-born, although U.S. citizens were arrested, too…

Nationally, about 1,500 of those arrested were described as “gang members, associates or those otherwise criminally charged.”

ICE said 905 of the suspects face criminal charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault, drug and firearms violations and charges of re-entry into the U.S. after deportation. The other half face administrative immigration offenses, and a third of those arrested are U.S. citizens, ICE officials said of the operation, which included other federal and state agencies.

As one longtime researcher of gangs noted, the federal government has a bad habit of lumping everyone in the same pool and giving them the same label.

“I am no lover of gangs … but I am also skeptical of a lot of ICE’s claims,” said Tom Diaz, the author of a book on transnational Latino gangs and a senior policy analyst for the D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.

“The majority of people swept up have been just ordinary, undocumented members,” he said. “Given the past track record of just pumping up the numbers, I would really want to examine their numbers closely.”

What would the government gain from inflating the numbers — a couple of things: Justification for their methods and numerical proof that their methods are working.

The 287(g), along with the ICE campaign looking for gang members, run the risk of misidentifying some undocumented as “criminal aliens” or “gang members” when their only crime may be they re-entered the country after being deported.

Considering that a good percentage, and I don’t have the exact numbers, of undocumented re-enter illegally to reunite with families, seems disingenuous and downright deceptive of the Department of Homeland Security to label these people all as hardened criminals out to kill Americans.

They don’t have to word it like that. It’s sufficient that they have planted that assumption in people’s minds by calling them criminal aliens and purposely not making the distinction between the true violent criminals and those who just re-entered the country without a passport or visa.

It’s a big difference and shows just how insecure the Department of Homeland Security is with Washington’s reception of their tactics that programs designed to get the true hard-core criminal immigrants off our streets are still rounding up immigrants whose only crime is that they don’t have the proper paperwork to be here.

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6 Comments

  1. cookie said:

    There are times when I am at a loss for words. This is one of them. I just can’t believe the inaccuracies and twists of the truth that the content of this topic holds. I will just say one thing. Re-entering our country after being deported is a felony. God help this country if any Americans think that felonies commited by foreigners are acceptable and that they shouldn’t be incarcerated for them.

  2. Forest said:

    “One of the most egregious tactics for detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants is the use by local law enforcement of what is known as the 287(g) program. The 287(g), which empowers local law enforcement to act as federal officers in detaining undocumented immigrants and hold them over for deportation proceedings, has been the subject of much debate since lax oversight by the Department of Homeland Security allowed law enforcement officers, like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to abuse the 287(g) program.”
    What you call egregious, millions of citizens call an effective way for local governments to support understaffed and overwhelmed federal agencies. Latinos don’t like 287(g) not for racial profiling, but because Jose and Maria is subject to reporting to ICE if identified as illegal aliens by the local constabulary. Advocates of illegal aliens invariably pull the race card when a member of their constituency is pulled over for a traffic fine and reported to ICE. It’s the advocates that are reprehensible when they use race to smear our law enforcment agencies and degrade out law enforcement through intimidation through charges of racial profiling.
    “That’s a huge leap which leads many to believe that the government’s definition of a criminal alien may not be totally accurate.”
    Only a large leap if your intent is to prevent the enforcement of our laws. You forget one thing, being an illegal alien is still an arrestable and deportable offense. Arresting illegal aliens for being in this country is not necessarily racial profiling, regardless of your personal belief that only criminal illegal aliens should be subjected to this. And just because you and some of your friends have suspicians doesn’t make your case.
    “… when their only crime may be they re-entered the country after being deported.”
    When I last checked this it was a felony to do so, and punishable by imprisonment as well. Because this person believes it shouldn’t be a criminal offense and minimuzes it, doesn’t make it less so. I suspect that other than open borders types that believe that somehow South and Central Americans have some special entitlement to violate our borders with imjpunity. Most Americans support the arrest and incarceration of recividist illegal aliens, and no amount of whining on the part of Latino advocates on behalf of their clients is going to change this, not even CIR. Those south of our borders do not respect our rights as a sovereign nation, so I feel no reason to show them any mercy.

  3. Grandma said:

    The 287(g), along with the ICE campaign looking for gang members, run the risk of misidentifying some undocumented as “criminal aliens” or “gang members” when their only crime may be they re-entered the country after being deported.
    Reentering the country after being deported is a felony according to federal law. That’s a federal crime and those who choose to violate that law are criminals. They should be arrested, have their day in court, serve their time and then be deported. Why do you continue to believe they should just get a slap on the hand?

  4. maryelizabeth said:

    If someone re-entered because the law split them up from their US borned child and wife can you blame them for trying to come back in. If the laws were reasonable they would not be given a “felony” for just simply wanting to live under the same roof in the country were there wife and daughter was borned in.

  5. George said:

    “If someone re-entered because the law split them up from their US borned child and wife can you blame them for trying to come back in. If the laws were reasonable they would not be given a “felony” for just simply wanting to live under the same roof in the country were there wife and daughter was borned in.”
    Nothing stops U.S. born children from going to Mexico or the homeland of their parents. My nephews were born here and after my in-law’s work in the U.S. was finished, the boys were not abandoned in the U.S., but returned with to their home country with them. Having children in this country doesn’t entitle parents to stay here, especially when you’ve decided to enter the country illegally. If it did, we’d have absolutely no control over our immigration process, as the illegal immigrants would then rule. We’d be flooded with overstayers and illegal border crossers without limit. It’s not our laws that are wrong. It’s not our laws that forced anyone to do anything, it’s the bad decisions of illegal aliens that have caused the problems. It is a matter of fact that there are no countries that permit this, including Mexico. When every country in the world takes the same position, you have a pretty good idea that the complaints that you’ve made have no merit. Your arguments are more emotional than rational, ME.

  6. maryelizabeth said:

    We will see George. Having children in this country will most likely give you the rights to be here in the future. Just because we have laws it does not mean that the laws in place are reasonable. That is the beauty of this country. We have a system that we can fight to change and it is obvious that common sense Immigration Reform is needed. Hopefully reform will assure that familys are not split up in the future. Splitting up children from their dads and moms is not a part of Amerian family values.

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