Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mere Tinkering

Earlier this month, I commented on the Department of Homeland Security's attempt to rein in Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. America's Sheriff had taken to conducting his own immigration sweeps under the color of a federal program known as 287(g), rousting people solely on the basis of how Mexican they looked rather than on the basis of their having committed violent crimes, which was the justification for the program.

It now appears that DHS is renegotiating with all of the local police departments in the program as an attempt to provide more "oversight" so as curb the excesses found in the program by a federal watchdog. DHS announced some of the changes yesterday.

Despite continuing criticism about the program, authorities announced Friday that 67 local and state law enforcement agencies across the country would continue enforcing immigration law under special agreements with the federal government, but that they would be subject to more oversight. ...

[ICE Assistant Secretary John] Morton announced in July that the program, which has drawn criticism about racial profiling and civil rights violations, would continue but that every agency wanting to participate would have to sign a new agreement by this week. Under the revised guidelines, the police agencies would have to focus on serious criminals and would be bound by civil rights and constitutional laws.

Now, that's interesting. The justification for the partnership between federal immigration and local police authorities allowed under the 1996 law was that it was a sensible way to get violent criminals off the streets and out of the country. Thirteen years later "revised guidelines" are necessary to implement the stated purpose of the law? And local cops have to be reminded of civil rights and constitutional laws?


But there's more. Here's how those "revised guidelines" are translated into the new agreements:

The proposed agreement in Los Angeles County would give the sheriff's department more responsibility in processing illegal immigrants for possible deportation, according to a recent report by Merrick Bobb, special advisor to the supervisors. The additional responsibilities would require that the custody assistants begin the screening process before inmates are convicted, rather than after conviction, contrary to the supervisors' original direction to the sheriff's department, Bobb said. [Emphasis added]

That's sort of like allowing the hangman in to measure the defendant before the trial. It's a great time saver.

So much for civil rights and constitutional laws.

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