The L.A. Times today profiles a study that claims a Clinton-era program that partners federal immigration authorities with local police is more likely to focus on “soft” arrests of immigrant gardeners and roofers than on serious law breakers or potential terrorists.

The program, known as 287(g), is the subject of research conducted by a Brooklyn-based group called Justice Strategies. The group's study, Local Democracy on ICE, says 287(g), in which Los Angeles and other Southern California counties participate, has become a policy billy club in post-9/11 America, permitting local law enforcement agencies to arrest aliens who have not necessarily committed a crime but who merely provoke suspicion.

A Justice Strategies press release notes that “287(g) is a tiny provision

in federal immigration law that allows Homeland Security's Immigration

and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take local police away from their

mission of fighting crime, and pull them into the murky territory of

targeting immigrants for arrest without suspicion of crime.”

The Times quotes

study co-author Judith Greene's claim that police are far more likely

to go after “day laborers, street vendors, people who are driving

around with broken taillights” than aliens who pose credible threats to

America's security. The study, which recommends termination of the

287(g) program, claims that race has played a bigger role in the

explosion of immigrant arrests under the program than actual criminal

threats. It singles out Arizona's Maricopa County, and its sheriff, Joe Arpaio,

for abusing the program by letting untrained volunteers round up “day

laborers and drivers of color” who were later paraded in shackles from

a county jail to Arpaio's tent city prison.

LA Weekly