Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homeland Security reports state police inadequately trained to address immigration! So how the heck are Arizona police going to follow federal law?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, saying local officers inadequately trained, overseen

08:50 AM CDT on Monday, April 5, 2010

By Julia Preston,

State and local police officers who enforce federal immigration laws are not adequately screened, trained or supervised, and the civil rights of the immigrants they deal with are not consistently protected, according to a report released Friday by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
The report by the department's internal watchdog was a sweeping review of a program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Through agreements signed with about 60 county and state police forces, the program allows local officers to question immigrants about their legal status and detain them for deportation.
The inspector general's report describes the program as haphazardly administered, with local agencies detaining and prosecuting immigrants with little oversight from federal agents and significant inconsistencies from place to place.
Top officials at ICE have said the program's priority is to deport immigrants with serious criminal records. But the inspector general found that the program lacked measures to determine whether immigrants detained by local officers were serious offenders.
Without those measures, the report says, ICE cannot be assured "that resources are being appropriately targeted" toward immigrants "who pose the greatest risk to public safety and community."
The report is based on field inspections in the first six months of last year. In July, ICE officials acknowledged widespread criticism of the program, and asked all participating law enforcement agencies to sign new agreements that clarified its goals.
In addition, ICE officials said Friday that they had been aware of the inspector general's findings since last year and had taken an array of steps to address them.
"Since the audit was conducted, ICE has fundamentally reformed the program," said an agency spokesman, Richard Rocha, "strengthening public safety and ensuring consistency in immigration enforcement across the country by prioritizing the arrest and detention of criminal aliens, fulfilling many of the report's recommendations."
The inspector general acknowledged many of the program's improvements. But, the report said, many of the most serious problems remained unresolved.
Based on the report, several immigrant advocate groups on Friday called for the termination of the program, which is commonly known as 287(g), after the clause in immigration law that established it.
The report found that the performance records of local officers were not thoroughly examined before they were allowed to join the program.
Without adequate background checks, the report says, the program exposes Department of Homeland Security intelligence systems to "inappropriate or unauthorized access."

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