Homeland Security Suspends Immigration Enforcement Program For Arizona Officers
The Department of Homeland Security is suspending the program it uses to deputize local, county and state law enforcement officers in Arizona so they can double up as immigration agents.
The move affects only Arizona and it was made in direct reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday regarding Arizona’s controversial immigration laws.
The court struck down three provisions of the law, but left intact the right for Arizona law enforcement officers to make immigration-related arrests.
But with Homeland Security’s suspension of the program — called 287(g) from its section in immigration law — no future officers in Arizona will be given the training to make arrest immigrants solely on their immigration status.
That training is handled by DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE.
Homeland Security would not comment on the record. An official on background indicated that ICE agents in Arizona have been instructed not to respond for calls for assistance from local enforcement unless the person in question is a convicted criminal, was just caught crossing the border illegally or is a repeat illegal border crosser.
Not only will no more officers be trained in Arizona, but already existing agreements with state law enforcement agencies were also nixed, according to the Homeland Security official.
The affected Arizona agencies that no longer have federal authority to enforce federal immigration laws include the Department of Public Safety, police departments in Phoenix, Mesa and Florence, as well as Sheriff’s departments in Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties.
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In a separately released statement, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s mixed decision will make her department’s work “more challenging.”
Apparently alluding to the 287(g) suspension, Napolitano said that DHS “will implement operational enhancements to its programs in Arizona to ensure that the agency can remain focused on its priorities.”