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Role of Local Police: Striking a Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2009
8 pages
This executive summary, and corresponding full report (NCJ 227761), presents the findings from focus group meetings held across the Country, a national conference, surveys, and scholarly papers prepared specifically for this project, detailing the perspectives and insights of law enforcement practitioners directly impacted by the enforcement of immigration.
In 1996, Congress passed legislation expanding the role of local law enforcement in Federal immigration enforcement resulting in the well-known U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) 287 (g) program that authorizes Federal officials to enter into written agreements with State and local law enforcement agencies to carry out the functions of immigration officers. However, law enforcement agencies have expressed concern in participating in immigration enforcement efforts, as well as the impact on local law enforcement, with already strained State and local resources. In response to these concerns, the Police Foundation launched a national effort to examine the implications of local law enforcement participation. Highlights of recommendations resulting from this effort include: (1) the costs of participating in the U.S. Customs Enforcement's (ICE) 287(g) program outweigh the benefits; (2) police officers should be prohibited from arresting and detaining persons to solely investigate immigration status in the absence of probable cause of an independent State criminal law violation; (3) local and State authorities participating in Federal immigration enforcement activities should develop policies and procedures for monitoring racial profiling and abuse of authority; and (4) there is a need for empirical research on ICE's 287(g) program and other methods of police collaboration with Federal immigration authorities; and (5) local law enforcement leaders and policing organizations should place pressure on the Federal government to comprehensively improve border security and reform the immigration system. This executive summary is followed by six abstracts of papers, included in the full report, by scholars from various academic disciplines related to the issue of immigration and law enforcement.