The Department of Homeland Security touts its 287(g) program, which trains local police and corrections officials to check detainees’ immigration status, as a way to weed out dangerous criminals who have entered the country illegally. But it isn’t always put to that use. When researchers from the University of North Carolina took a look at state counties that had implemented the program, they found it had little effect on crime rates. It did, however, cost millions of dollars while souring relations between police and Hispanic communities.
Though the program is theoretically aimed at finding serious criminals, officials often view it as a way to drive illegal immigrants out of their communities altogether. “I want illegal aliens, to be honest, out of here,” Alamance County Commissioner Tim Sutton told the researchers. “I don’t blink an eye.”
The way 287(g) has been used suggests that many officials share Sutton’s view: Almost a third of the people processed for deportation were arrested on routine traffic violations, compared to only 13.3 percent for felonies. In one case, a man was arrested and deported after he was shot. His crime? Providing the incorrect address for the location of the shooting.