La Raza: Deporting 12 Million Illegal Aliens ‘Not a Realistic Solution’ and U.S. Should Stop Trying

August 17, 2010 - 3:25 PM
The Hispanic activist group La Raza called for the federal government to end a program that allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to work with local law enforcement to target illegal aliens for deportation.
(CNSNews.com) – The United States cannot deport all 12 million illegal aliens in the United States and should stop trying, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) told CNSNews.com last week.
 
“We have to recognize that our immigration system has been broken for 20 years and there are now 12 million people living and working and praying among us who are here without documents. Many have spouses who are citizens or children fighting for our country,” NCLR Immigration Field Coordinator A. Elena Lacayo said in an e-mail response to a question from CNSNews.com.

“Deporting 12 million people is not a realistic solution,” she wrote. “It’s time we create a rational immigration system, take these people out of the shadows and restore the rule of law.”
 
CNSNews.com had asked Lacayo: “Should law enforcement officers strive to prosecute and deport known illegal immigrants whenever they are apprehended or stopped for any reason since they are breaking U.S. law by being inside U.S. borders without legal documentation?”
 
La Raza released a report last week calling for the termination of a federal program that allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to work with local law enforcement to target illegal aliens for deportation.
 
Lacayo, the author of the report, said that the federal 287(g) program had failed in its mission to target aliens considered to pose the greatest public risk, and routinely led to the apprehension and deportation proceedings of illegal aliens for “minor offenses.”
 
“Although the stated priority of the program is to apprehend those who pose the greatest threat to our society, in other words, serious criminals and terrorists, the program has been shown to apprehend large numbers of individuals who pose no credible threat to our community or country,” Lacayo said during a telephone news conference last Thursday announcing the report.

The report said that a majority of immigrants detained under 287(g) authority, “have been apprehended for minor offenses such as driving with a broken taillight, fishing without a permit, or ‘conspiracy to smuggle oneself,’” referring to instances when illegal immigrants conspire with human smugglers to enter the United States.

The NCLR also directly attacked Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio is internationally known for his strict enforcement of immigration laws in Arizona.
 
“Perhaps no jurisdiction has shown greater misuse of the 287(g) program than Maricopa County, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio has effectively converted the police department into an immigration enforcement agency,” the report stated.
 
“More than 2,200 lawsuits have been filed against Sheriff Arpaio’s broad use of the 287(g) program for ‘crime suppression/anti-illegal immigration’ sweeps that have been conducted ‘without any evidence of criminal activity violating federal regulations intended to prevent racial profiling,'" stated the report.
 
Arpaio did not respond to attempts by CNSNews.com to seek his response to the allegations. He is being threatened with a lawsuit by the Justice Department over his  “crimesweeps,” and a federal grand jury in Phoenix is currently probing the sheriff on other charges.
 
The 287(g) program, added to the Immigration and Nationality Act by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, is described by ICE as “one of ICE's top partnership initiatives” that has “emerged as one of the agency's most successful and popular partnership initiatives as more state and local leaders have come to understand how a shared approach to immigration enforcement can benefit their communities.”

According to ICE, since January of 2006, the 287(g) program is credited with identifying more than 173,000 potentially removable aliens, mostly at local jails.

ICE spokesman Richard Rocha told CNSNews.com: “Consistent with ICE’s continued focus on criminal aliens, in the past two years ICE has removed more than 35,000 convicted criminal aliens identified through the 287(g) program.”

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told CNSNews.com that the criticism of the 287(g) program for apprehending illegal aliens for minor violations has become very common but is “silly.”

“Every person who is an illegal alien here is potentially subject to deportation because they are in violation of immigration law and they don’t have permission to be here,” Vaughan said. 

“If the way they get discovered is because they commit another crime, I think most Americans understand the logic there that that’s simply how they came into the attention of law enforcement,” she said.

Vaughan said that the program should be expanded by several fold because local officers are the ones who know where the criminal aliens are and it is important to have their involvement in immigration law enforcement.

“What it boils down to is that this organization, National Council of La Raza, (apparently does not) think any illegal alien should be subject to immigration law enforcement,” Vaughan told CNSNews.com. 

“If we can’t even remove criminals, even if they’re (arrested for) minor crimes, who can we remove?” Vaughn said.

“This program works, and that’s why they have devoted so much attention to trying to end it, even though it is really not particularly controversial, especially in the law enforcement community, and definitely not among members of the public,” Vaughan added.