Fate Of Controversial Program Part Of DHS Budget Debate
June 05, 2013

PHOENIX -- The Obama administration wants to phase out a controversial immigration enforcement program, but a House appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security maintains funding for it.

The program is known as the 287(g) task force program and under it, local police are deputized to carry out some federal immigration duties in the field.

Critics say it facilitates racial profiling and makes some immigrants scared of law enforcement, while proponents say it is a force multiplier that helps enforce immigration laws.

In written testimony to the House Appropriations Committee in April, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said she wished to cancel the "inefficient" 287(g) task force program, and would therefore need $44 million less.

Napolitano wrote that the separate 287(g) jail program, as well as the jail fingerprint program Secure Communities, "have proven to be more efficient and effective in identifying and removing criminal and other priority aliens than the task force officer model agreements."

But lawmakers added $44 million to the appropriations bill to keep the task force program alive.

Representatives debated the bill on the House floor on Wednesday.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) tried in vain to convince his colleagues to amend the bill to defund the program.

He mentioned a recent racial profiling ruling against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in which a federal judge said the 287g training was legally flawed.

"Even Sheriff Arpaio has acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security directed him and his officers to use racial profiling as part of their policing practices in identifying individuals for deportation," Polis said.

"You know if Sheriff Arpaio is citing a federal expenditure as a justification for his actions, there must be a problem with that federal expenditure."

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office entered into a 287(g) agreement with the federal government in 2007, though the Department of Homeland Security declined to renew the agreement two years later.

The House bill also funds 2,200 more immigration detention beds than the Obama administration had requested.

On Monday, the White House issued a memo that mentioned objections to those provisions, among others.