House Hearing Shows 287(g) “Sets Police Profession Back to 1950’s”

Written by on April 2, 2009 in Enforcement, Interior Enforcement, Legislation with 7 Comments

Photo by shadowcruiser.

In response to evidence piling up suggesting that the 287(g) program is experiencing an array of problems, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law and the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing today to learn more about the program’s alarming effects.

Members of the Subcommittees heard testimony from Julio Cesar Mora, a 19 year old native-born US citizen who told of how he and his father (who has had his green card since 1976) were stopped in their car on the way to work, patted down, handcuffed and taken to a place where many workers were being held by officers in black uniform and ski masks.  After several hours Julio and his father were released after proving their legal immigration status.  Mora said:

“to this day, I don’t know why the officers stopped us out of all the cars on the road.  Maybe it was because of the Campesina radio sticker on our bumper or maybe it’s because my dad was wearing his Mexican tejana and they thought we were illegal…They took away our pride.

Frederick County Maryland immigrant advocate Antonio Ramirez told of men being pulled over for driving too slowly, another for having a tree air freshener hanging from a rearview mirror and “illegally blocking his view of the road.”  Mr. Ramirez said Frederick County Sheriff’s Office representatives had told him the reason he joined 287(g) was that he “want[s] Frederick County to look the way it did 15 years ago,” and that he can’t understand why Latinos don’t understand that “we don’t want them here.”

Police representatives and policing experts testified that 287(g) isn’t working for the police either.  Mesa, Arizona Police Chief George Gascon, a long time critic of police enforcing immigration laws said in his written testimony:

“Increased political pressure on local law enforcement to reduce undocumented immigration coupled with the Federal deputization of local police to enforce federal immigration statutes is jeopardizing sound and well established policing practices… In some cases [287(g)] is setting the police profession back to the 1950s and 60s, when police officers were some times viewed in minority communities as the enemy.

Law professor David Harris similarly stated that:

“moving our state and local police into the business of immigration enforcement risks the gains we have made against crime over the last fifteen years, and creates significant new perils for the men and women who dedicate themselves to public safety.”

Police Foundation President Hubert Williams stated that the costs of participating in the 287(g) program outweigh the benefits.

The new Congress and the new Administration have the opportunity to change current immigration enforcement priorities and policies based on the data and evidence they have obtained over the last several weeks.  Today’s hearing provides even more evidence that assigning local police to chase 12 million busboys, students, and farmworkers is no substitute for the kind of rational solutions to immigration that can only come from the federal government.

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  • Ev

    I completely agree. Local law enforcement should not be given the job to deport illegals. It just creates racial profiling.

  • richard kessler

    STOP 287g NOW.


    Immigration law should be enforced at the federal level…NOT at state or local levels. It leads to racial profiling and makes all of us less safe.

  • Mia

    There has to be a better way. 287g has had the effect of criminalizing CIVIL law. We seem to forget that there is a difference. There are bigger problems that have been created by the drive to punish as opposed to reform. It is a right-wing dogma that has been used in “the war on drugs” and “the war on crime” Only now it’s the “war on undocumented individuals.” It has been encouraged by Republican fear mongering from Willie Horton to “turn in your potentially terrorist neighbors.”
    What on earth is democratic or American about punishing economic refugees? Who has documented the “terrorist threat” caused by people coming to work and improve thier economic situation? Not only does 287g need to placed on some sort of moratorium, so does the whole raids system of ICE, until it can be determined if either of these programs have had the desired effect of mitigating this country’s woefully lopsided immigration system. AS much as economic reform is a priority, so should the immediate call for a complete and drastic overhaul of the current immigration system, starting with the release of ALL detainees who are not guilty of any CRIMINAL offense. Additionally, the reform should include the immediate creation of a path to permanent residency (not citizenship) for undocumented individuals , starting with parents who have been forcibly separated from their children because of our current draconian enforcement policy.

  • Christy

    Well, I have to say that something needs to be done about all of the illegal immigrants but this isn’t the way to do it. We need to come up with a better solution.And just let me say, I was pulled over in the state of Michigan because I had an air freshner hanging from my rear view mirror as well and I’m polish but they were trying to bust people for DUIs.

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