Obama Wants 287(g) Agencies to be Held Accountable for Actions; Napolitano Wants Status of Some Agencies Revoked

President Obama popped into a meeting today between government officials and immigrant advocates, saying he wants local 287(g)-authorized agencies "held accountable," a pro-immigrant group said today.

Reform Immigration for America stated in a news release that the president wasn't expected at the meeting in Washington D.C. on immigration reform, which was attended by representatives of immigrant-rights groups, "leaders from faith, business, law enforcement, and labor," senior White House officials and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. According to the group:

The President is clear that he wants immigration reform to move forward this year so that we can pass a bill early next year. To do that, we need to see more motion from Congress and more push from Secretary Napolitano. We hope to see detailed congressional proposals shortly after recess.

The President said specifically that when it comes to the local police charged with enforcing federal immigration law under 287(g) agreements that he wants these local law enforcement agencies held accountable. We continue to oppose expanding 287(g) agreements and other expansions of state and local involvement in federal enforcement issues, but we intend to make sure the President follows through on holding these police forces accountable. For example, it will be hard to feel that this administration is serious about taking a new approach to enforcement when bad actors like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona continue to conduct sweeps through Latino neighborhoods under the authority of 287(g).

The pro-immigrant group asked followers of its Web site to submit questions for Napolitano. She answered them in an ultra-brief and noncommital fashion, according to the group's blog:

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, and a partner of the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America, was able to ask Napolitano two representative questions selected from the 4,000-plus entries. The first was submitted by a person in Pickerington, Ohio who wanted to know why Napolitano has focused too intently on border security and stopped advocating for comprehensive reform. Napolitano said she has been working on immigration reform, and would do more to communicate with people on her efforts on both fronts.

Noorani's other question concerned the 287g program, which gives local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration law. Noorani asked Napolitano to revoke the authority of agencies who have clearly violated the spirit of the agreement, and that the immigration reform community looked forward to seeing that happen. Napolitano responded, "Me, too."

We're not sure if anyone should get too excited about these vague statements from Napolitano and Obama. Immigration reform seems to be on perma-hold as the Obama administration fights to get a government-run health insurance plan approved.

Now that healthcare reform appears to be gasping its dying breaths, though, maybe it's time to tackle the country's insane, unworkable immigration policies.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.