While most of the attention last Wednesday was focused on Trump’s orders authorizing construction of the border wall and efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities, ABC News reported that Trump also ordered the revival of an old program that had nearly been mothballed by the Obama administration.
The program permits the Department of Homeland Security to essentially “deputize” local law enforcement agents and officers to aid in enforcing federal immigration laws, such as by checking an individual’s immigration status through the course of routine contact, and certainly if they’ve been arrested or jailed in connection with sort of crime.
The program had more than 60 various police departments and sheriff’s offices enrolled as of 2009, but President Barack Obama’s administration rolled it back and limited it significantly, to the point that about half of the participants dropped out while the rest were consigned to simply check their local jails for violent violators of immigration laws who needed to be turned over to federal agents.
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona was perhaps the most well-known participant in the program, even as he was repeatedly harassed and sued for taking part in it.
To be sure, civil rights groups and immigration advocates have decried the program and stated that they believe it will inevitably lead to an increase in racial profiling or the rights of immigrants being violated, which is what they accused Arpaio of doing. However, other groups, like the Center for Immigration Studies, cheered the return of the “great program” that at one point accounted for nearly 20 percent of criminal deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, according to The Washington Post.
The Post also reported that Trump concurrently revived the Secure Communities program, a program both started and stopped under Obama that checked the fingerprints of everyone taken into custody by law enforcement across the U.S. against a federal database of immigration records, quickly identifying those individuals who needed to be handed over to the feds for deportation.
BizPac Review noted that several local law enforcement agencies have already jumped at the chance to enlist the services of their officers in aiding federal immigration agents, including the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Texas.
Jackson County Sheriff A.J. “Andy” Louderback estimated that it would cost his department roughly $3,000 to train a few of his deputies to take part in the program, but he wasn’t worried about the cost at all as he figured it would be money well-spent.
“It just seems like good law enforcement to partner with federal law enforcement in this area,” said Louderback. “It takes all of us to do this job.”
Indeed, it does take the cooperation of everyone on the federal, state and local level to effectively enforce immigration laws. This program should serve as a counter to those uncooperative jurisdictions across the nation that profess to be “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants in violation of federal laws.