Federal, Local Law Enforcement Program Nets 79,000 Illegal Aliens Since 2006

By Penny Starr | March 13, 2009 | 7:11 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fact sheet reveals that 67 state and local law enforcement agencies in 23 states have signed an agreement with DHS to enforce federal immigration laws. The program allows local law enforcement, with federal training and authorization, to apprehend, arrest and imprison illegal aliens.
The report says that since January 2006, the 287(g) program has identified 79,000 individuals, most of them already in prison, who are suspected of being in the United States illegally. 
The program – Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security, or ACCESS – trains law enforcement personnel as "jail enforcement officers" to identify people serving time in prisons who are in the country illegally, and as Task Force Officers, who enforce immigration law outside of the penal system, according to section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
State and local police attend a four-week training session at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, S.C., led by certified instructors, according to the DHS.
Requirements for entering the training program include U.S. citizenship, a background investigation, a minimum of two years' experience in one's current position and no pending disciplinary actions.
The partnership, DHS says, “allows local patrol officers, detectives, investigators and correctional officers” to “pursue investigations relating to violent crimes, human smuggling, gang and organized crime activities, sexual-related offenses, narcotics smuggling and money laundering.”
Critics of the ACCESS say it leads to racial profiling and the wrongful detention of people who are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
“It has too broad a scope, a lack of oversight and lack of clarity,” Monica Sandschafer, state director of ACORN Arizona, told CNSNews.com. She said that people have been stopped, interrogated, and even detained for violations as minor as a broken brake light. (ACORN is the acronym for the nationwide Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.)
“I have a broken tail light,” Sandschafer said. “I’m white, and I have not been stopped, and I’ve had it for about a month.”
The Department of Justice has launched an investigation of alleged civil rights abuses by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona – an investigation that was requested by pro-immigrant activist groups like ACORN and several Democratic members of Congress.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 added Section 287 (g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The states with law enforcement agencies taking part in ACCESS include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.