Responding to reports that the Department of Homeland Security plans to end its 287(g) agreement with Maricopa County in Arizona, Representatives Lamar Smith and Trent Franks are showing their support for the county.
Both Rep. Smith (R-Texas) and Rep. Franks (R-Ariz.) serve on the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Smith is the Ranking Member and Rep. Franks represents Maricopa County. They released a joint statement earlier today.
This unbelievable move by the Obama Administration represents a politicized attempt to hinder one of our most effective illegal immigration enforcement mechanisms, the 287(g) program.
The key to combating illegal immigration is federal, state, and local cooperation. This is why we believe it is crucial for the federal government to continue to support individuals like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the implementation of agreements under section 287(g), which provides for the Department of Homeland Security to delegate authority to enforce federal immigration laws to state and local officials.
To date, hundreds of local officers have been trained in enforcing U.S. immigration laws, and nowhere in the country is this more critical than in Maricopa County. Currently, over 33% of inmates in Maricopa County Sheriff facilities are illegal, and more than 53% of violent crimes in Maricopa County are committed by illegal immigrants.
The fact is, the 287(g) program works. Thousands of illegal immigrants apprehended for other crimes are being identified and deported.
Claims that the program was supposed to focus only on serious crimes are false. In fact, the program was created to let state and local law enforcement officials help enforce all immigration laws, not a select few. We must not forget that we live in a post-9/11 world and have a profound responsibility to secure the borders of this nation to prevent another terrorist attack. Terrorists are looking for our weakest link and will exploit such weaknesses at any cost. Border security and national security are inextricably linked.
Local law enforcement agencies deserve the thanks, and not punishment, of the federal government for helping to address the problem of rampant illegal immigration, especially in area like Maricopa County that see an increase in crime, drug trafficking, and other issues because of it.
Instead of launching a politicized attack against a local law official who has yielded great success with the 287(g) program, the Obama Administration should replicate the success we have experienced in Maricopa County in other areas that are desperately in need of similar solutions. It is reprehensible for DHS to bully law enforcement officials who have honorably served this nation and the state of Arizona by enforcing federal and state laws and who are continuing to work to protect the American people.
Updated: Thu, Oct 8th 2009 @ 7:23am EDT