Trump may empower local police to round up immigrants

MIAMI — Deputizing local police officers from around the country to enforce the nation’s immigration laws is one plan being proposed to President-elect Donald Trump to fulfill his pledge to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

The idea was on a sheet of proposals for the Department of Homeland Security that was photographed when a member of Trump’s immigration transition team met with him Sunday. The list of proposals carried by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach also addressed Trump’s campaign pledge to cut off the program that accepts Syrian refugees and to enhance screening of people from countries with ties to terrorism.

Kobach, who has helped several states draft laws that crack down on illegal immigration, did not respond to requests for comments about the proposals.

The so-called 287(g) program on the list allows the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to train local police officers and sheriffs deputies to locate and catch undocumented immigrants living in their communities.

The program was created by Congress in 1996 and used by President George W. Bush. By 2010, local officers in 24 states were trained and empowered by ICE to respond to crime scenes, make traffic stops and check local jails to determine the immigration status of suspects.

The program was largely phased out by President Obama. Local officers now only work in local jails, not on the street.

Kobach’s proposal suggests the program be ratcheted back up to “at least 70 cities and counties” when Trump enters the White House in January. Trump said in a post-election interview that a top priority will be deporting an estimated 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Expanding local enforcement would be a quick, cheap “force multiplier” for a Trump administration intent on increasing deportations, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors steps to curb illegal immigration. She said federal agents are already stretched thin, and adding local officers to do immigration work would help expand their reach.

“I would expect ICE to be inundated with applications” from local agencies interested in taking part, Vaughan said. “It’s a great thing for public safety and our immigration enforcement. You’re going to have fewer criminal aliens falling through the cracks and more sent home rather than being allowed to stay in those communities.”

Opponents counter that expanding local enforcement would alienate communities with significant Hispanic populations. Lake County (Ill.) Sheriff Mark Curran, a former prosecutor, said he looked into the program when it was created, but changed his mind once he thought through the downside of such a step.

Curran said solving crimes requires witnesses to step forward and talk to police, something the Hispanic community would not do if the officers were also acting as immigration agents.

“As soon as your police car pulls up, all the doors are going to shut,” Curran said. “All they know is you dragged some relative of theirs out of the house a week ago who hadn’t done anything but try to provide for his family. They’re not going to want to cooperate with you.”

Opponents counter that expanding local enforcement would alienate communities with significant Hispanic populations. Lake County (Ill.) Sheriff Mark Curran, a former prosecutor, said he looked into the program when it was created, but changed his mind once he thought through the downside of such a step.

Curran said solving crimes requires witnesses to step forward and talk to police, something the Hispanic community would not do if the officers were also acting as immigration agents.

“As soon as your police car pulls up, all the doors are going to shut,” Curran said. “All they know is you dragged some relative of theirs out of the house a week ago who hadn’t done anything but try to provide for his family. They’re not going to want to cooperate with you.”

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(Source:washingtontimes.com)
Photo: AP

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