June 21, 2012
The Obama administration has been working to eliminate an effective joint state and federal program to control illegal immigration, Heritage Foundation expert Matt Mayer argues.
Since Congress created the so-called 287(g) program in 1996, 120,000 illegal immigrants have been deported under its auspices. But the executive branch has disrespected legislative authority by seeking to unilaterally end the program.
President Obama’s attempts to interfere with the program is a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers, Mayer explains:
Congress clearly provided state and local governments with the ability to leverage Section 287(g) to enforce federal immigration law. Yet the Obama Administration has gone beyond its executive branch power to enforce the law by ending the Section 287(g) program.
287(g) allows an arresting officer, whether federal or local, to act in place of a federal immigration agent and deport the suspect. Mayer explains how important these programs have been:
For participating cities and states, Section 287(g) has been a critical tool for enforcing America’s immigration laws, because it has become a force multiplier for the under-resourced ICE. In the first seven years after ICE started using the authorities under Section 287(g), more than 60 state and local agencies entered into MOAs resulting in roughly 1,000 law enforcement officers being “deputized” to enforce federal immigration law. Even more important, over 120,000 individuals were identified as illegal immigrants under the program.
Despite President Obama’s efforts to kill this highly effective program, Congress has held firm. In a June 7 vote, Congress chose not only to uphold 287(g), but also to increase its funding from $5.4 million to $68 million.