SANTA ROSA, Calif.—Sonoma County Sheriff 's office is joining a federal program call 287(g) that automatically verifies the immigration status of anyone arrested. Under the program , the fingerprints of those arrested are sent to the Department of Homeland Security to compare with its records. Prior to this program, the immigration enforcement agents (ICE) had to visit local jails to check booking records.
Since the inception of the program in 2008, 10 other California counties have joined: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego, Imperial, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Solano, San Joaquin and Stanislaus.
The 287(g) program, allows a state and local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added Section 287(g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This authorizes the secretary of DHS to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of ICE officers.
Tis section of the immigration law has been under constant attack. The primary reason for the dispute is that the program was intended to target serious criminals. Instead it has been using by some for racial profiling and serving as an excuse for local law-enforcement officers to hunt down illegal immigrants and deport them. Minor crimes and even traffic violations has caused the arrest of illegal immigrant under the 297(g) program.
The Obama administration has tried to rein in the 287g program as part of a broader effort tore organize ICE. The administration has been taking steps to reduce the agency's image as a hard-lined enforcer.
Immigration reform, which is currently being reviewed by the Obama administration may be the cure to the over reaching by state enforcement officials.