We welcome the news that the 287(g) program at the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office might cease operations. Local police and deputies should not be in the business of directly enforcing federal immigration laws.
Community policing, a proven strategy that has helped reduce violent crime by 65 percent over the past 20 years, depends on trust in local law enforcement -- from all communities. Such trust is severely undermined when local law enforcement officers take on immigration enforcement roles. As a result, immigrant victims of domestic violence and other crimes are afraid to report crimes and cooperate with the police.
Government audits of the 287(g) program have revealed serious concerns regarding its integrity, internal controls, effectiveness and vulnerability to abuse. All the while, federal 287(g) funding increased nationwide from $5 million in 2006 to $68 million last year. Yet the program's stated objective of targeting serious offenders has never been met; an in-depth study concluded that it fails to target serious offenders in one out of every two cases.
This litany of ill effects should stop, which is why we have urged the Department of Homeland Security to end all 287(g) agreements in South Carolina, including the one in Beaufort County. Our communities would be safer and our civil liberties more secure if the harmful 287(g) program ceased to exist.
American Civil Liberties Union
of South Carolina