Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Immigration Enforcement: Keeping it Local

Last week I blogged on a new trend in immigration enforcement: using local police to apprehend undocumented immigrants. Today's Washington Post reports that this trend is increasing, as local police who once took a "don't ask, don't tell" approach, are now engaged in the effort to arrest and deport local residents. This action is supported by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program 287(g), which trains local law enforcement officials and authorizes them to enforce immigration law. The on-line addition of the Post also reported that Herndon's Town Council voted 6-1 to join the program.

In some cases, local police are arresting immigrants who were changed with violent crimes, in others, immigrants were stopped for minor traffic violations. Although it is not clear whether this program will decrease undocumented immigration, it has caused considerable worry among immigrant communties where it is currently being utilized.

I cannot help to wonder why some local jurisdictions are anxious to enforce immigration law. It is clear that our current system is not working, and rather than taking this piecemeal approach, the nation (and local communities) would be better served by insisting that Congress take up this issue and work toward a solution. We should not have to wait for immigration reform simply because our leaders do not see it as a viable election year issue.

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