Our VoiceImmigration

DHS Accused of Racial Profiling

Cloee Cooper • Sep 29, 2009

It has been over six years since Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) was founded. Since its inception, they have caused enough harm for national research groups to accuse ICE of racial profiling. The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity of UC Berkeley recently released a report entitled “The C.A.P. Effect Racial Profiling in the ICE Criminal Alien Program”. For those who work within immigration, the deplorable actions of ICE do not have to be proven in a research document. However, the recent report lends credibility to critiques of ICE – both in terms of its history of human rights violations and in terms of the implementation of programs such as 287 (g) and CAP (Criminal Alien Program), which call for federal-local cooperation for immigration enforcement.  When local police are acting as an arm of the Department of Homelands security, it is more likely than not, that you will be stopped simply for looking Hispanic.

The Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity conducted research in Irving, Texas to examine the racial implications of local and state police working alongside ICE. What they found, is that within 24 hour access to ICE, local police arrest of Hispanics for minor offenses increased significantly, while the arrest of African Americans and white people remained steady.  The correlation between ICE’s access to Irving officials and the increase in Hispanic arrests for minor offenses supports the contention that the aggressive profiling of Hispanics increased through the collaboration.

One program that is notably controversial is the 287 (g) program. Operating under ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security), 287 (g) authorizes the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions. According to ICE’s website, over 100,000 “potentially removable aliens” have been identified in 20 states since 2006 through the 287 (g) program.

There has also been a new emphasis on identifying “criminal aliens” who are detained in jails and prisons, and deporting them once they finish their sentence. This function has been carried out by one of ICE’s 13 programs, the Criminal Alien Program (CAP).

These programs combined, while purportedly claiming to enhance public security, place people of color (particularly Latinos) at a major security risk in this country. According to the ACLU:

In light of a hearing examining Department of Homeland Security law enforcement operations, the American Civil Liberties Union called once again for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security to conduct true oversight over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), one of the worst violators of civil liberties among federal agencies. ICE has conducted dragnet-style raids of homes and businesses to sweep for immigrants, separated parents from their children and held them without due process in immigration detention facilities, and been responsible for numerous deaths due to squalid conditions.

The expanded programs of the Department of Homeland Security that call for federal-local cooperation should warrant a concern for U.S. racial identity.  How can we claim to be a post-racial society while local and state police stop someone on the street because of their skin color? While devastating in its scope, let injustice propel us to action, so that six years down the road, we might not allow the federal government to violate the human and civil rights of individuals living within our communities. Please see the report on ‘The C.A.P. Effect: Racial Profiling in the ICE Criminal Alien Program’ from The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity of UC Berkeley here: http://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/policybrief_irving_FINAL.pdf

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