Monday, August 18, 2014

Obama Should Stop Racial Profiling and Family Separation in Immigration Enforcement

From the NY Times:

There is another task for the administration, just as urgent: to bring immigration policy in line with lawfulness and common sense. The Department of Homeland Security needs to get control of its enforcement machinery to make sure that its actions in the field match the priorities set in Washington, focusing resources on public-safety and national-security threats, not the workers and families trapped in the failed system. The goal is the smart and lawful use of discretion. Easy to say. Not so easily done.

The problem is that Homeland Security has farmed out that discretion — strewn it, actually — across the country, among state and local law enforcement agencies whose officers may only dimly recognize, or not care about, the dangers of an indiscriminate immigrant dragnet. Through programs linking local law enforcement with federal agencies, the administration has vastly increased the numbers of low-priority minor offenders and noncriminals it sweeps up. And it has failed to police its own agencies and employees to ensure that its own rules and priorities are followed.

Two examples may serve to suggest the outlines of the larger problem:
The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, an advocacy organization, has been raising an alarm over what it says is unchecked racial profiling by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents working with local police to raid businesses and homes and other places Latinos gather. Using vans equipped with mobile fingerprint readers, they have been sweeping up Latinos who pose no threat and shouldn’t be high-priority targets.

Those who complain — or who try to assert their civil rights in disputes with employers — are often subject to retaliation by ICE and put on a fast track to deportation. The advocates make a strong case that any new program to defer deportations must include workers involved in disputes over civil and labor rights. Employees who have been exploited or are the victims of unconstitutional policing need to be free to expose these abuses without fear, for the protection of all workers.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a sheriff, Terry Johnson of Alamance County, is on trial this month, accused by the Justice Department of rampant racial-profiling abuses against Latinos. Two retired supervising deputies testified at the trial that Sheriff Johnson had told officers not to give Latino drivers traffic citations, but to take them directly to jail. Starting in 2007, Sheriff Johnson was a partner in the federal 287(g) program, which trains local officials as immigration agents. The government revoked that agreement in 2012. As with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., an inveterate immigrant victimizer whose 287(g) authority was belatedly curtailed, Sheriff Johnson seems to be a prime exhibit of the dangers of outsourcing immigration authority to peace officers who don’t get the memo, or heed the Constitution. Read more....


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