Transforming the System


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Ending unworkable collaborations between state criminal and federal immigration systems

Over the past 10 years, the federal government has enforced federal immigration laws with the assistance of local law enforcement officers through such programs as “Secure Communities,” and its most recent iteration the Priority Enforcement Program (“PEP”). These programs require that biometric data (e.g., fingerprints) transmitted by state and local law enforcement agencies to the FBI are automatically shared with DHS. Not only does this take away resources from local police organizations, it also destabilizes the relationship between the police and immigrant communities. Such enforcement programs also lead to racial profiling, the targeting of Latino residents, and the erroneous arrests of U.S. citizens by ICE. A growing number of states and municipalities have declined to participate in these programs due to these concerns, and the Presidential Commission on 21st Century Policing recommended that local law enforcement activities be “decoupled” from immigration enforcement.

To further the policy objective of encouraging the cooperation of communities in maintaining public safety, the Administration should:

  • Terminate the Priority Enforcement Program, a federal program that checks fingerprints taken by local law enforcement against immigration databases. All fingerprints taken by local law officers at arrest are shared with the FBI, and then passed to ICE. If ICE is interested in an individual, a request can be made for that individual’s release date or ICE can ask the local agency to hold that individual for ICE to take into custody;
  • Continue demanding law enforcement to work with the community, not ICE;
  • End 287(g) agreements.

Immigration enforcement practices should not be transformed into a criminal justice matter. Immigration enforcement is a civil process and demands civil enforcement. Criminalizing immigration exposes it to the many biases in the criminal justice system that have been discussed in this document. Moreover, it is imperative that local law enforcement does not inject itself into the area of immigration enforcement in order for the United States to comply with its international treaty and human rights obligation.

To this end, the Department of Homeland Security and Administration should:

  • Prohibit local law enforcement from collaborating with ICE.

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