WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Immigration Law Center, along with
more than 500 groups from across the country, today delivered
to President Obama demanding that he end the merger of immigration
enforcement with criminal justice. The three-page letter expressed
concerns and presented proof that the Obama administration's increased
reliance on local law enforcement to arrest, detain, and deport
immigrants has exacerbated existing problems in the criminal justice
According to the groups, "The merger of immigration enforcement and
local criminal justice agencies is not only bad public policy, it also
sabotages local law enforcement agencies' core mission of protecting
public safety by undermining the trust of the communities they serve.
It discourages people from turning to the police when they need to, even
to report crimes. It undermines public safety by diverting scarce
resources away from local policing and focuses them on false threats
from people who look or sound foreign."
Secure Communities, 287(g), and the Criminal Alien Program -- the Obama
administration's signature immigration enforcement programs -- all rely
on heavy involvement from and cooperation with local law enforcement to
siphon immigrants into the immigration enforcement and detention system
and, ultimately, through deportation proceedings.
"Whether by looking tough on immigration or tough on crime, Washington
has long used ill-conceived policy to score cheap political points,
often without considering the damaging consequences of their actions,"
said Marielena Hincapiť, executive director of the National Immigration
Law Center. "The organizations that have signed on to the letter
today are asking the Obama administration to end these programs that may
look tough on paper, but are replete with racial disparities in their
implementation, making all of us less safe."
As the letter to President Obama points out, abuses within the criminal
justice system have been well documented, and racial profiling continues
to plague even traditionally immigrant-rich cities. In New York
City, for example, more than 81 percent of those stopped by police are
black or Latino.
"The racial disparities prevalent throughout the nation's complex
criminal justice system are aggravated in the current context of
immigration enforcement," said Nicole D. Porter, state advocacy
coordinator for the Sentencing Project, a national organization that
works to create a fair and effective criminal justice system. "The
Obama administration can engage in more humane and legitimate
enforcement by working to find solutions that fix both the broken
criminal justice and immigration systems."
The National Immigration Law Center is a legal advocacy organization
that defends and advances the rights of low-income immigrants and their
families. Over the past thirty years, NILC has earned a national
reputation for its extensive knowledge of the complex interplay between
immigrants' legal status and their rights under U.S. laws. The
center is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with an office in
The letter addressed to President Obama, which includes the full list of
organizations that signed it, is available at