Arizona–and Arpaio–Already Lead Country in 287(g) Round Ups

The notorious sheriff accounts for a quarter of folks local cops have sent to feds.

By Kai Wright Jul 28, 2010

As we await District Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling on whether she’ll let Arizona’s SB 1070 take effect tomorrow, the Associated Press has numbers on just how many folks are already being deporting through local law enforcement. As Aarti Shahani wrote for ColorLines, Arizona’s new law actually grows out of the federal 287(g) program, which deputized local cops to investigate the immigration status of people who they’ve arrested. AP found that infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been a standout in that program:

Statistics obtained by The Associated Press show that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was responsible for the deportations or forced departure of 26,146 immigrants since 2007.

That’s about a quarter of the national total of 115,841 sent out of the U.S. by officers in 64 law enforcement agencies deputized to help enforce immigration laws, some since 2006, under the so-called 287(g) program.

The tens of thousands of immigrant arrests show local officials already have a significant amount of authority to enforce immigration laws and help remove illegal immigrants from the country.

Los Angeles County came in a distant second, having sent 13,784 people to the feds. SB 1070 would require local cops to go a step further and investigate the immigration status of *anybody* they suspect of being in the state without papers. It’s of course that suspicion bit that’s most troubling, as it’s sure to set up widespread racial profiling.

But many argue that’s what 287(g) already encourages, if not requires. Both the Government Accountability Office and the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general have raised concerns about how 287(g) is run and about potential civil rights violations by local cops. Arpaio is already facing a federal investigation for civil rights violations.

Meanwhile, 287(g) ain’t cheap. As AP reports,

U.S. taxpayers pay the federal cost, which has grown from $5 million in 2006 to $68 million in 2010, according to the DHS inspector general. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reimburses some of the local agencies for housing immigrants in their jails.