Governor Jan Brewer is in the throes of a full-on hissy fit in response to the news that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is yanking its 287(g) agreements with Arizona law enforcement agencies, supposedly in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier today to uphold the "papers please" section of Senate Bill 1070.
Thing is, the announcement concerning the 287(g) agreements is mostly a PR move, according to immigrant rights advocates, and there is evidence aplenty to back up that contention.
Under the 287(g) program, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which is part of DHS) entered into agreements with local agencies, allowing officers to be cross-trained as ICE agents. The officers would then be allowed to enforce federal immigration law under ICE's supervision.
Earlier this year, DHS proposed a gradual phase-out of the program in favor of its so-called Secure Communities initiative, which allows local jails to share information about those arrested and booked with the feds and thereby, identify undocumented aliens.
According to ICE's website all 15 of Arizona's counties participate in S-Comm. Moreover, the information being relayed to newspapers via unnamed DHS sources indicates that the 287(g) programs in Arizona's jails will remain active.
Only the "field enforcement," i.e., the 287(g) programs that train officers for work on the streets, will be discontinued.
Chris Newman, a lawyer with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, called the announcement "wholly insufficient," and mocked the idea that it would have a significant impact upon how localities partner with the feds on immigration.
"I think it's worth asking [Sheriff] Joe Arpaio what impact it had when his task force authority was cut," Newman said. "In effect, he said nothing changed."
Arpaio had the largest 287(g) force in the nation, until his 287(g) field authority was eliminated in 2009. Then his 287(g) jail authority was cut by DHS in late 2011. Yet, ICE agents still work Maricopa County's jails, and the jails also have Secure Communities.
So when, in the wake of the DHS decision today, Brewer denounces President Obama for having "demonstrated anew his utter disregard for the safety and security of the Arizona people" and calls the move "the disarmament of Arizona's 287(g) agreements," she is full of it, per usual.
But, according to activists like Newman, neither is the administration credible when, according to CNN, it informs reporters that, "federal officials will not respond to the scene of state or local traffic stops or similar law enforcement encounters to enforce immigration laws unless the individual meets DHS enforcement priorities."
Or that., "[t]o meet those priorities, the individual must be a convicted criminal or a recent border crosser, or must have been removed from the U.S. previously and re-entered unlawfully."
Newman asserts that only a small percentage of those who have gone through a case review under ICE's revised "priorities" have had their deportations stopped.
In fact, the so-called "Morton memos" signed by ICE director John Morton, which purportedly prioritize "criminal aliens" for removal, have been the subject of much criticism by the pro-immigrant community.
"ICE has consistently and willfully misrepresented its prioritization policy," Newman contended.
He went on to claim that DHS move was meant to cover its tracks, and deflect criticism of DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, who was instrumental in bringing 287(g) to Arizona when she was governor and has overseen a massive expansion of S-comm.
All this is likely too much inside baseball for the average news consumer. It's more likely the media will simply continue the narrative it's been fed by both Brewer and the administration:
The former being that the Obama administration has "abandoned" Arizona, and the latter being that the administration is acting to quarantine a mess that, ironically, it has helped exacerbate over the last three and a half years.
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