In a surprising move, the Obama administration announced on Friday it is ending part of a controversial program that authorizes state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws in many states.
Known as the 287(g) program, it deputizes police and allows them to interrogate people about their immigration status. The program also allows local police to arrest, detain and transport criminals for immigration offenses.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it was ending part of the 287(g) initiative on the Friday afternoon before the Christmas holiday. The ICE statement came near the end of a broadly focused press release about other matters and was tersely worded:
"ICE has also decided not to renew any of its agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies that operate task forces under the 287(g) program. ICE has concluded that other enforcement programs, including Secure Communities, are a more efficient use of resources for focusing on priority cases."
The news release said that "ICE has concluded that other enforcement programs, including Secure Communities, are a more efficient use of resources for focusing on priority cases" than the 287(g) program.
Despite eliminating part of the program, ICE is keeping another part of 287(g) that is used by jails and prisons across the country.
Immigrant advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups, have long complained that the federal program has promoted abuses and profiling. The Justice Department has filed civil rights lawsuits against local law enforcement agencies in Arizona and North Carolina over the abuse allegations.