Arizona Congressman David Schweikert is taking a jab at the Obama administration for its decision to scrap part of a federal immigration program in Arizona.
In an opinion piece published on July 4 in the Washington Times, Schweikert claims that President Barack Obama is not taking illegal-immigration enforcement seriously and Arizona's undocumented residents need not fear the state's police state because of it.
The reason, he explains, is because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced it would terminate part of its 287(g) task-force agreements in Arizona.
The announcement came after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Senate Bill 1070 and its upholding of the papers-please portion of Arizona's breathing-while-brown law.
"This means that most of those in our state illegally no longer have to fear federal immigration authorities because the Obama administration effectively is no longer enforcing immigration laws in Arizona," the congressman wrote.
But DHS' announcement doesn't give undocumented immigrants in Arizona any reason to feel safe, says B. Loewe, an organizer with the pro-immigrant National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
"The Supreme Court ruling and DHS' reaction didn't give any breathing room for migrants in Arizona," Loewe countered.
The 287(g) agreements being terminated allowed certain specially-trained cops the ability to question a person's immigration status in the field.
But still standing are the 287(g) jail agreements, which allow 287(g) officers to question a suspect's immigration status once he or she is booked into jail.
Schweikert also overlooked a stricter program known as Secure Communities, which has produced thousands of deportations since 2008 in Arizona.
This program allows local police to background-check a person through an FBI database that alerts an officer if the suspected illegal immigrant has a criminal record.
Pinal County was the first to use the program in 2008 and now it is enforced statewide.
The program has resulted in the deportation of 20,973 immigrants as of May of this year, according to U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement's statistics. This number makes Arizona the third highest state in removing undocumented immigrants in the country's 50 states, four territories and Washington D.C. where the program is active.
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To say that Obama has stopped enforcing illegal immigration laws is an exaggeration, to say the least. In fact, activists say that Obama is doing what many in the political right have asked for--deport illegal immigrants in record numbers.
So far, under Obama, more than 1.1 million have been shipped back home. Last time the United States saw this many deportations was during "Operation Wetback," in the 1950s, under President Eisenhower. It is estimated that more than 800,000 U.S.-born and foreign-born individuals were removed from the country at that time.
"The reality is that up until now the Obama administration has been an accomplice in the human-rights crisis in Arizona created by its immigration policies," Loewe stated. "[B]ut the far-right wants to give the false impression of anything otherwise."