Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) had a letter published in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the Obama Administration's decision to weaken the 287(g) program after the paper published a story about the decision on July 11.

Rep. Smith was one of the architects of the 287(g) program, which partners Immigration and Customs Enforcement with local law agencies in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The program provides funding and training to participating agencies and more than 120,000 illegal aliens have been identified since its implementation.

A few week's ago, the Obama Administration weakened the contract it had with local law officials. The program initially allowed police officers to turn over any illegal alien committing an offense. Now, only illegal aliens committing major offenses may be turned over to federal officials.

Rep. Smith's letter...

Your article "New Curbs Set on Arrests of Illegal Immigrants" (U.S. News, July 11) reveals the latest move by the Obama administration to handcuff local police and make it harder for them to find and deport illegal immigrants.

As the co-author of the legislation enacting the 287g program, I can attest that it was created to let state and local law-enforcement officials help enforce all immigration laws, not a select few. It only makes sense to remove illegal immigrants from the streets before they commit more serious crimes.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security appears to be trying to intimidate agencies that are successfully helping the federal government enforce our nation's immigration laws. DHS is changing the rules for sheriffs and police departments. The ultimatum: Sign on to our new program in 90 days, or you are kicked out!

The DHS should do more, not less, to protect the lives and property of all Americans and make our communities safer.

Rep. Lamar Smith
(R., Texas)
Ranking Member
House Judiciary Committee

Interior Enforcement

Updated: Mon, Jul 20th 2009 @ 8:03am EDT