Jenkins: Arizona decision to have little local impact

Sheriff speaks with ICE officials

Originally published June 27, 2012
By Danielle E. Gaines
News-Post Staff

The Obama administration's suspension of a police immigration enforcement program in Arizona is expected to have little effect locally, according to the county sheriff. The action followed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday on Arizona's immigration law.
The 287(g) task force program, named after a section of federal immigration law, was used by 35 local-level law enforcement agencies across the country including the Frederick County Sheriff's Office before the White House suspended task force enforcement by seven agencies in Arizona on Monday.

The program allows police to check the immigration status of people stopped for any reason during an officer's regular duties.

The law also allows for jail-level enforcement, in which local jails check the immigration status of inmates and can issue immigration detainers for those in the country illegally.

The eight 287(g) jail-level enforcement programs in Arizona were not affected by Monday's administration decision.

Most of the nearly 300,000 people identified through the 287(g) program as being potentially eligible for deportation have been found through the jail-based program, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Frederick County Sheriff's Office is one of eight remaining agencies in the country that participate in both aspects of the program, according to ICE.

Since 2008, the county has reported 1,064 people to immigration officials, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said Tuesday.

Jenkins said he spoke as recently as Monday with ICE officials who did not indicate the suspension of 287(g) would have any impact locally.

"I don't have any reason to believe it will," Jenkins said. "I hope it doesn't."

No other jurisdiction in Maryland participates in either 287(g) program.

Monday's suspension of the Arizona task forces is one of several moves that have chipped away at 287(g) since President Barack Obama took office, though funding for the program has steadily increased.

In its fiscal 2013 budget proposal, the Obama administration asked for a $17 million cut to the program to get rid of ineffective task force programs and announced it would stop considering requests for new 287(g) task forces. The administration also said it would reduce spending on 287(g) programs in favor of Secure Communities, another immigration enforcement program that focuses on fingerprints taken from people booked into local jails.

Irene Packer-Halsey, board president of United Latinos of Frederick, said her organization has heard concerns about the 287(g) program in Frederick County, but has not had anyone come forward to file an official complaint. She said she worries about the program's indirect effects.

"It's all about creating an atmosphere of fear in the county," she said.

The court's decision and suspension of Arizona 287(g) task forces highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform, Packer-Halsey said.

"I respect the Supreme Court decision, but I don't think it's sufficient to address the current broken immigration system at the national level and in Frederick County," she said. "Reform is going to be the solution for everyone, no matter where you stand on the issue."

Jenkins: Arizona decision to have little local impact - The Frederick News-Post Online