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Thursday, December 1, 2016

It CAN happen here

By Claire Pimentel in Rhode Island’s Future

Image result for immigrant roundups

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office announced that the Department had been accepted into Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 287(g) program, beginning an era where local law enforcement will be permitted to engage in immigration law enforcement.

The program has long been praised by Trump’s transition team, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach helped several states draft laws designed to target undocumented immigrants and force them to self-deport. 

He was instrumental in drafting Arizona’s SB 1070, as well as a city ordinance that banned undocumented immigrants from rental housing.

Kobach has been advocating for the expansion of the 287(g) program to several more cities before Trump’s inauguration. 

While the program is no longer in place for local police officers, and is instead being used exclusively in jails, nothing prevents Trump from instructing his Secretary of Homeland Security to expand the scope of it. 

The program would enable Trump to easily expand the deportation force to accomplish his campaign promise of deporting 3 million undocumented immigrants.

In a press release, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson stated that the Sheriff’s Office will work to “protect the safety of our citizens and legal residents.” 

In reality, the 287(g) partnership entails a diversion of resources from law enforcement, litigation, and fear in immigrant communities. Instead of focusing on solving crime, 287(g) turns local police into a deportation army. 

While ICE states that program’s purpose is to remove noncitizens who pose a threat to national security or their communities, over half of those caught by the 287(g) dragnet had not been convicted in crimes of violence, drug offenses, or property crimes.

For instance, in Davidson County, Tennessee, the most common charge for those who were caught by the dragnet was that of “No Driver’s License”. 

Considering that driving without a license cannot be determined until a stop is made, it is fairly reasonable to infer that 287(g) promotes racial profiling.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has targeted families, racially profiled individuals and even supported the unconstitutional SB 1070 — said to ICE that its raids on immigrant communities were justified by state law. 

However, over half of the arrests made in those raids were based on federal immigration charges alone. They were not arresting murderers or rapists. 

They were arresting families and children, letting them fester in tent cities in the sweltering Arizona summer while they awaited deportation. 

Sheriff Arpaio’s reign of terror not only harmed immigrant communities, but increased response times to calls and increased rates of violent crime. Arpaio’s raids diverted resources from actual police work to a politically motivated deportation force.

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke Jr, who is on Trump’s shortlist for Secretary of Homeland Security, has long targeted undocumented immigrants and political opponents. 

In an interview with Fox News, Clarke called demonstrators protesting against Trump’s immigration stance “anarchists”, “a conglomeration of misfits”, and a “totalitarian movement.”

Sheriff Hodgson is no different from Arpaio and Clarke. His actions should be of no surprise. In 2015, Hodgson defended Sheriff Joe Arpaio against racial profiling charges on Sandy Rios’ radio program

Hodgson stated that Obama’s administration targeted Arpaio in an attempt to distract from its own scandals. Arpaio has faced numerous investigations, including a civil rights investigation that was pursued by the Department of Justice.

This September, Sheriff Hodgson attended a conference hosted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). 

While FAIR sounds imperious, it has been scrutinized on numerous occasions for using flawed methodologies to pin astronomical costs and blame on our immigrant communities. 

The motives of FAIR are clear: the founder, John Tanton, has a record of association with former Klan lawyers and Holocaust deniers, as shown by correspondence archived at the University of Michigan’s library. 

In fact, FAIR is identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bristol County’s 287(g) partnership is not about solving crime. It is not about safety. It is about deporting and separating working families and children for political points. 

It is about the erecting of a deportation force for limp political leaders who consider appeasing nativists to take precedence over fighting actual crime. And Hodgson’s dose of political Viagra seems to be paying dividends, as he started this month with over $240,000 in his campaign account.

With Kris Kobach’s insistence on 287(g) expansion, and Sheriffs Arpaio and Clarke being considered for Secretary of Homeland Security, the deportation force may be coming to a city near you.

Claire Pimentel is an undocumented immigrant. Their work on immigration and social justice has been featured in RI Future, The Providence Journal, GoLocal Prov and The Guardian.