Notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio is at it again. This time, he has told various local media outlets that he has signed a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and will continue participating in what is known as the 287(g) program, which, among other things, allows local law enforcement to become de facto immigration officers. If this claim is true (Arpaio has a history of dissembling and exaggerating, and DHS has been notably silent on what is transpiring), it is a deeply disturbing development.
The 287(g) program was originally conceived as way for local police and federal immigration authorities to work together to apprehend those in the country without authorization, have committed serious crimes and are a dangerous to the community. But under the Bush 287(g) program, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arpaio-wannabes have been given a long leash to target ordinary immigrants living and working in the U.S. without immigration papers, i.e: people who may have violated federal, civil immigration laws, but have committed no crimes. Such excesses have turned local communities into areas where immigrants – both legal and undocumented – are terrorized in a quest to drive them out of the jurisdiction. This creates conflict among other law enforcement agencies that are concerned about the impact that the agreement has on crime reporting since a portion of the community is afraid to work with the police.