Wednesday, August 12, 2009

INA § 287(g) - Turning Local Police into Federal Immigration Authorities

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the expansion of the controversial 287(g) program to eleven new locations across the country. This program allows local law enforcement agencies to enter into agreements with Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. It effectively gives local police the powers of federal immigration agents.

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now recently covered this story in her program.

However, what is particularly uncomfortable for me is the convergence between this 287(g) program and the US-VISIT initiative using multiple layers of security, including the use of biometrics, such as digital fingerprints, to establish and verify international travelers' identities. US-VISIT also includes LPR's even though they are not actually seeking admission when crossing the U.S. border.

The use of these two programs in conjunction is creating the "Big Brother" effect that Orwell warned the world about in 1984. US-VISIT database is now linked to NCIC database (the National Crime Information Center) which all local law enforcement agencies check when someone is detained. One example of how this works is the situation of a non-immigrant visitor on a tourist visa who has overstayed their permitted stay. They are a passenger in a vehicle stopped for a routine traffic stop. The officer runs the ID's through NCIC and the visitor's name pops up as an overstay from the US-VISIT database. The officer is commissioned under 287(g) to enforce immigration laws and now takes the visitor into immigration detention and turns the person over to ICE to initiate removal proceedings.

Total information awareness, thank you Admiral Poindexter.

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