The National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, yesterday released a report on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, saying

it provides unchecked authority to local law enforcement, entangles the broader immigrant and Latino communities by leading to the arrest of mostly nonviolent and non-threatening immigrants, and exacerbates racial and ethnic targeting of Hispanics at the local level.

“As this report shows, the 287(g) program provides compelling evidence that current concerns with Arizona S.B. 1070 — which is strongly opposed by the national civil rights community — are based on experiences with similar, poorly conceived and badly implemented enforcement strategies,” said NCLR’s Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation Vice President Eric Rodriguez in a press release.

The 29-page report offers valuable background analysis on immigration enforcement:

In January 2009, a blistering report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO)was released faulting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a lack of program oversight, among other things.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) within DHS recently released a report [in March 2010] with 33 recommendations for fixing the 287(g) program. However, despite the serious and numerous concerns presented by the GAO and OIG, the Obama administration continues to maintain and expand the 287(g) program.

A number of academic and advocacy groups that have tracked 287(g)-related incidents show that the majority of those arrested and deported under 287(g) were not the violent criminals or terrorists that the program was intended to apprehend.

The ACLU, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, and Florida Immigrant Advocacy Council have also denounced 287(g).

This week the National Day Laborers Organizers Network, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law released federal data that show that Secure Communities, another ICE immigration law enforcement program, has also targeted and deported non-criminals and low-level criminals.

The scrutiny levied on immigration law enforcement programs has grown because Arizona immigration enforcement law S.B. 1070 and proposals like the one announced this week by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum — which seek to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants.

According to the federal Immigration and Naturalization Act, illegal presence in the U.S. is a civil violation.

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