With the reelection campaign looming, and a desperate need to rally the Hispanic vote this November, the Obama administration is shutting down a key and successful program in which local law enforcement officials were trained and deputized to enforce laws against illegal immigration. From USAToday:
The Obama administration is starting to shut down a program that deputized local police officers to act as immigration agents.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have trained local officers around the country to act as their agencies’ immigration officers. Working either in jails or in the field, the officers can check the immigration status of suspects and place immigration holds on them.
The program, known as 287(g), reached its peak under President George W. Bush, when 60 local agencies signed contracts with ICE to implement it. But that trend slowed significantly under President Obama— only eight agencies have signed up since he took office, and none has done so since August 2010.
…All the contracts between ICE and local police agencies run for three years, so that portion of the program could be finished by November when the last contract for field officers expires.
Gee… just in time for the election. How convenient!
DHS said officials instead will focus on expanding Secure Communities, a program that checks the fingerprints of all people booked into local jails against federal immigration databases. The followup work in those cases is done by ICE agents, not local police.
The fallacy, obviously, is that only those few illegals who have been previously arrested and finger-printed will be in the federal databases, and allowing followup work to be done by the feds simply means that little, if anything, will actually be done to remove even the worst criminals among those who are here illegally.
There is another, more subtle reason the Obama is shutting down the immigration enforcement program. Arguments in the Obama administration challenges to immigration enforcement laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, and South Carolina will be coming up this summer and fall. Superficially, the administration’s arguments are nominally strengthened if all immigration enforcement authority is in federal hands… even if the feds are essentially doing nothing to secure the border and stem the flow of illegal immigrants.