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ACLU urges government to stop delegating federal immigration authority

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday urged [press release] the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] to stop delegating federal immigration authority to state and local law enforcement agencies, claiming this leads to racial profiling. Specifically, the ACLU contends that the 287(g) program [ICE backgrounder] has promoted the racial profiling of Latinos and that the ICE should not renew the program prior to its September 30 expiration. Citing incidents of Latinos being targeted at traffic stops and being arrested for minor traffic violations, and the setting of checkpoints near Latino neighborhoods, ACLU's legal counsel called for a joint effort from the ICE and the Department of Homeland Security [official website] to end the racial bias it believes has been fostered since the inception of 287(g). On Wednesday the ACLU joined several faith, labor, immigration advocacy and other civil rights organizations in sending a letter [text, PDF] to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton [official profiles] to terminate the program on grounds that it lacks "transparency and federal oversight, [thus] leaving the program susceptible to inefficiencies, insufficiently-monitored racial profiling, and pretextual arrests by law enforcement agencies."

The ICE's 287(g) program has been controversial [JURIST op-ed] since its inception despite amendments in 2009 [JURIST report]. The changes were supposed to address the current ACLU claim that police may arrest immigrants for minor offenses by providing for uniform standards for agencies requiring the pursuit of all criminal charges leading to an immigrant's arrest and prioritized cases of immigrants accused of major drug offenses or violent crimes.

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