Authorizing State and Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
(The following is based on a recent GAO report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.)
The Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended during the Obama Administration, authorizes the federal government to enter into partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to train officers to assist in identifying those individuals who are in the country illegally.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for supervising state and local officers under this program. However, following complaints received by members of the US Congress, the Government Accountability Office was asked to review this program.
The GAO’s report reviews the extent to which ICE has designed controls to govern the program’s implementation, and how the resources are being used and the activities, benefits, and concerns reported by participating agencies.
ICE has designed some management controls to govern program implementation, such as background checks of state and local officers, but the program lacks other controls, which makes it difficult for ICE to ensure that the program is operating as intended.
First, the program lacks documented objectives to help ensure that participants work toward a consistent purpose. ICE officials stated that the objective of the program is to address serious crime, such as narcotics smuggling committed by removable aliens; however, ICE has not documented this objective in program materials.
As a result, of 29 program participants reviewed by GAO, 4 used 287(g) authority to process individuals for minor crimes, such as speeding, contrary to the objective of the program.
Second, ICE has not described the nature and extent of its supervision over participating agencies’ implementation of the program, which has led to wide variation in the perception of the nature and extent of supervisory responsibility among ICE field officials and officials from the participating agencies. ICE is statutorily required to supervise agencies participating in the program, and internal control standards require an agency’s organizational structure to clearly define key areas of authority and responsibility.
Defining the nature and extent of the agency’s supervision over this large and growing program would strengthen ICE’s assurance that management’s directives are being carried out. Finally, while ICE states that participating agencies are responsible for tracking and reporting data to ICE, in 20 of 29 agencies
GAO reviewed, ICE did not define what data should be tracked or how it should be collected and reported.
Communicating to participating agencies what data is to be collected and how it should be gathered and reported would help ensure that ICE management has the information needed to determine whether the program is achieving its objective. ICE and program participants use resources for personnel, training, and equipment, and participants report activities, benefits, and concerns regarding the program.
In fiscal years 2006-2008, ICE received about $60 million to train, supervise, and equip program participants. As of October 2008, ICE reported enrolling 67 agencies and training 951 state and local law enforcement officers.
According to data provided by ICE for 25 of the 29 program participants reviewed by GAO, during fiscal year 2008, about 43,000 aliens had been arrested pursuant to the program, and of those, ICE detained about 34,000. About 41 percent of those detained were placed in removal proceedings, and an additional 44 percent agreed to be voluntarily removed.
The remaining 15 percent of those detained by ICE were given a humanitarian release, sent to federal or state prison, or released due to the minor nature of their crime and federal detention space limitations. Program participants report a reduction in crime, the removal of repeat offenders, and other public safety benefits.
However, over half of the 29 agencies GAO contacted reported concerns from community members that use of program authority would lead to racial profiling and intimidation by law enforcement officials.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. If you wish to receive Kouri’s emailed law enforcement and intelligence reports, write to him at COPmagazine@aol.com. Simply write “Free Subscription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.