National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Administrative Update for March 5, 2009

March 05, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

State and Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws: On March 4th, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on ICE’s “287(g)” program, to determine whether the program has been targeted as intended—to remove non-citizens who might pose a danger to the community.  This program, named for the provision of law which authorizes it, allows state and local police agencies, under contract with ICE, to enforce immigration laws as specified in Memorandums of Agreement between the participating local agencies and ICE.

Among others, the Committee heard from a witness from the Government Accountability Office, which released a report on 287(g) earlier this year. GAO found that ICE lacks controls to ensure that the program is being used as intended. In fact, GAO found that 4 of the 29 state/local program participants it examined used the program to pick up individuals for minor infractions. (Speeding was named as an example.)  The report is available here.

Also testifying were representatives of two police agencies in adjacent Maryland counties, representing opposing views.  Chief Thomas Manger, of Montgomery County, represents a jurisdiction with a large foreign-born population.  In his testimony, he expressed the concerns of the Major Cities Chiefs, an association of police executives representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada.  All of the testimony, as well as a recording of the hearing, is available on the Homeland Security Committee’s Web site.

You can read the Forum’s statement on the hearing in our Press Release.

You can also read more in two related articles from the Associated Press and the Arizona Republic.

The President’s Budget for 2010: On February 26th, the President released an outline of his budget for Fiscal Year 2010. More details remain to be released (in April). In the section on the Department of Homeland Security, the budget document mentions that ICE will get $1.4 billion, and $110 million will be spent for the expansion of E-Verify. Without specifics, the document says that the budget “supports strengthening the delivery of immigration services by streamlining and modernizing immigration application processes.”  

For the Justice Department, the budget includes funds to expand the Community Oriented Policing program and $145 million to strengthen the Civil Rights Division. There are additional funds to support “law enforcement and prosecutorial … efforts to investigate, arrest, detain, and prosecute illegal immigrants and other criminals” (but no details on what that means).

In general, in the immigration arena, the increased allocation for enforcement-related programs (E-Verify, for example) seems to be on auto-pilot, indicating that a new direction in immigration policy has yet to be outlined.

On the other hand, there are other signals in the budget that are positive.  The Labor Department will get more money for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for the Wage and Hour Division, and for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs—all offices that enforce worker protection laws.  While these components are not directly immigration related, increased enforcement against unscrupulous employers is thought by many to be a better approach than worksite raids targeting workers.

Homeland Security Oversight: On February 25th, Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security. In her prepared testimony she gave the Committee an update on her Action Directives (mentioned in a previous update).  You can watch the hearing on the Committee’s video archive here.

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