icebadgeIf you are an undocumented immigrant living in the United States, if you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop by the police, you may end up being put in jail.  Under a new program known by the acronym ICE ACCESS, (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) local law enforcement officials have the power to detain people if they are suspected of being illegal immigrants.  The job of immigration enforcement was previously solely the responsibility of federal agents, however, with this current program members of local police and sheriff departments can be trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an organization within the Department of Homeland Security.  After the local officers complete a four-week training course in at Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) ICE Academy (ICEA) in Charleston, SC, they are qualified to deal with arresting illegal immigrants. 

 

The program, however, has come under fire from outside observers.  One report, released by Justice Strategies, a company that, according to its website, does research on “sentencing and correctional policy, the political economy of incarceration, and the detention and imprisonment of immigrants.”  In its latest report, it accuses this program of wasting local police time by taking them away from fighting crime and racial profiling.  According to the report, “61 percent of jurisdictions that have entered into 287(g) agreements have crime rates that are lower than the national average. Census data show that 87 percent, however, are undergoing an increase in their Latino populations higher than the national average.”  287(g) refers to the number the program is given in federal immigration law. 

 

Although the law was originally intended to empower local law enforcement officials to help capture dangerous illegal immigrants, the report states that police, “rather than focusing on serious crime, police resources are spent targeting day-laborers, corn-vendors and people with broken tail-lights.”  Additionally local police must sign up for the program to enforce immigration law, so the motivation behind signing up for the program is different in every area.  Police can jail illegal immigrants without suspicion of a crime.  The law was designed to make communities safer and fight illegal immigrants that intend to harm the United States, however, the laws critics insist that the current enforcement is misguided.