New powers granted by the Department of Homeland Security would federalize local police departments along the Southern border of the United States. 287(g) would allow police to act as government agents in stopping undocumented immigration potentially without additional training on anti-biased policing. Unregulated attempts to police border crossings by local Sheriffs has resulted in escalated complaints of racial profiling and the use of what some believe is intentionally abusive and antiquated techniques (like Sheriff Joe “it’s an honor to be called KKK” Arpaio’s tent city prison in 100+ degree weather, chain gangs, and instructions to pull over all Latino drivers with any minor traffic violations, like being too close to the yellow line, and check for documentation). Statistics from the SLPC and local police records show an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Latino violence in areas that mix local policing and immigration issues. As I’ve written about before, constituents in Sheriff Arpaio’s districts have complained that other, violent crimes, such as rape and murder have gone uninvestigated to focus on immigration and a local reporter’s review of the cases seems to corroborate these complaints.
287(g) has the potential to further criminalize immigrants and Latino Americans who have committed no crimes. It exposes a particular group of people to the potential for harassment and abuse, and in some cases, false imprisonment and deportation. Officially involving local police has the added potential to divert police attention from dangerous crimes like rape and murder and further institutionalize racial profiling in ways that could also increase racism within the ranks.
Advocates are asking that you sign a petition asking the President to reconsider implementing this plan. You can read the letter and send in your signed copy electronically here.