Monday, April 5, 2010

Criminal threat prioritization is where all agree in 287(g), but Nashville implementation remains outlier

Chris Echegaray of the Tennessean recaps the recently released March 2010 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report on The Performance of 287(g) Agreements, which confirms yet again that Nashville is an outlier among the dozens of cities that implement the federal program that puts immigration status checks in the hands of local law enforcement.

In Nashville, the Davidson County Sheriff's office uses 287(g) to process people for immigration review pretty much indiscriminately. The DHS report states that the goal of the 287(g) program, however, is to prioritize resources so that immigration review is laser-focused on people who pose the greatest threat.

Immigrant advocates have always called for criminal threat prioritization as a component of 287(g), and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall himself touted that kind of prioritization from day one. But Nashville - with 80% of its 287(g) targets having committed only misdemeanors, and of those, 40% having been arrested on traffic offenses - is still one of less than a handful of 287(g) jurisdictions that does not prioritize, according to a 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office:
of 29 program participants reviewed by GAO, 4 used 287(g) authority to process individuals for minor crimes, such as speeding, contrary to the objective of the program
This new March 2010 report from DHS reinforces the need for prioritization in 287(g), and the relevant text from the report is as follows:
According to ICE’s [Immigration and Customs Enforcement's] July 2009 MOA template, the purpose of collaborations between ICE and LEAs is to identify and process for removal criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety or a danger to the community. ... However, with performance measures that do not focus on aliens who pose a threat to public safety or are a danger to the community, there is reduced assurance that the goal of the 287(g) program is being met. ... ICE has developed a risk-based approach to ensure that program resources are allocated to identify and determine the immigration status of aliens arrested for crimes that pose the greatest risk to the public. To this end, ICE has identified categories of aliens that are a priority for arrest and detention, with the highest being Level 1 aliens. This category consists of those who have been convicted of or arrested for major drug offenses or violent offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and kidnapping. Level 2 aliens are those who have been convicted of or arrested for minor drug offenses or property offenses such as burglary, larceny, fraud, and money laundering. Level 3 includes aliens who have been convicted of or arrested for other offenses. 287(g) resources are to be prioritized according to these levels.
Nashvillians need to take action to ensure that our 287(g) program is up to DHS standards and ICE goals and even the boundaries originally acknowledged by our own Sheriff.

Contact Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall at 862-8170, and contact your Metro Council Member to ask for the implementation of criminal threat prioritization in 287(g).

Edited to add: In other contexts, criminal threat prioritization is usually demanded when it is not implemented, such as in this context in Hendersonville where citizens demanded criminal threat prioritization, and they continue to demand it in the comments (H/T: Mack). A good test of whether we are administering justice to foreigners is if we are dealing with them the same way we demand to be dealt with.

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