In what immigration reform advocates are calling a well-deserved Christmas present to undocumented immigrants, the local detainer program used by local law enforcement agencies will be not be renewed in 2013. As reported through CNS News.com, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chief John Morton announced new guidelines for local agencies. Chief among them was the non-renewal of the "287(g) program."
This program is one aspect of ICE's partnership with local police departments and sheriff's offices where suspected illegal immigrants were being held for indefinite amounts of time. However, as we reported in our previous posts, the program has come under fire for detaining people who were actually U.S. citizens. Essentially, local police have been criticized for holding them longer than what is allowed (48 hours) under federal law. We also reported the recent certification of a class action lawsuit that would allow those improperly held to bring suit in federal court.
As part of the new mandate, ICE will not require local law enforcement to hold suspected illegals charged with misdemeanors. It also mirrors the policy change contemplated by sheriff's departments and police departments throughout California.
The policy change marks another step in the Obama Administration's march toward illegal immigrants. A major issue in the past election was how law abiding (yet illegal) immigrants would be treated after being charged with non-violent offenses and low-level drug charges, and immigration reform advocates argued that such charges should not be a bar towards obtaining lawful residence status.
We will continue to monitor these changes and report on how it may affect potential clients.
Source: CNS News.com, ICE Scraps 287(g)program that allowed local police to enforce immigration law, December 26, 2013