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|8/27: Homeland Security revises immigration partnership with local jails
Released 27 August 2009  By David Sherfinski
Homeland Security revises immigration partnership with local jails
By: David Sherfinski
Examiner Staff Writer
August 23, 2009
Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano speaks in the White House Press Briefing Room during a news conference (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
The Department of Homeland Security is requiring counties that participate in its illegal-immigration enforcement program to agree to a new focus on violent criminals.
The agency is telling counties, including Prince William and Loudoun, to sign a new memorandum of agreement for its 287(g) program or end their agreements. The program allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce some federal immigration laws.
Loudoun County staff and the county attorney are reviewing the revised memo, said sheriff’s office spokesman Kraig Troxell. The memo is also under review in Prince William County, said police department spokeswoman Kim Chinn.
Prince William has turned over 1,600 suspected illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, since July 2007.
Participating law enforcement agencies have until early October to sign the revised agreement or stop participating in the program.
“I think it is a continuation more [than] a change,” said American University professor Alan Kraut, who specializes in immigration history, adding that the Obama administration wants to focus on law and order.
Homeland Security also is expanding the program to 11 new jurisdictions, but opponents say it’s still nebulous.
It is “disconcerting” that Homeland Security would expand the program to new jurisdictions before testing the new agreement, said Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst for the Immigration Policy Center. The IPC is the research arm of the American Immigration Law Foundation.
Though the intention of the new agreement is to focus on serious crimes, Waslin said, it’s still not clear on how the government plans to do that. “There’s no clear mechanism,” she said.
But ICE officials defended the program as indispensable.
“The 287(g) program is an essential component of DHS’ comprehensive immigration enforcement strategy,” said John Morton,
assistant secretary for ICE.
The revised agreement took into account a January report from the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, which criticized the program for lacking “key internal controls.” It also requires participating jurisdictions to meet annually with ICE to provide updates.
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