For advocates of immigration reform, the first year of President Obama's tenure has been a huge disappointment. It made sense to tackle the economy and health care reform first, but the administration has no excuse for failing to change unfair and mean-spirited immigration programs under executive control.
Leading Democrats in Congress are signaling that they're ready to fight for a legislative overhaul of immigration. Great; go for it.
But meanwhile, there's nothing to stop the administration from doing a better job of implementing and enforcing laws already on the books.
The place to start is with the Department of Homeland Security's outsourcing program, known as 287(g), that allows local agencies to enforce immigration laws. Earlier this month, the department's own inspector general cited the program for poor performance.
The report found a host of problems, including a lack of proper training; insufficient oversight by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); evidence that officers often overstepped their authority; and an inconsistent application of standards among jurisdictions.
What's worse is that it promotes racial profiling, diverts scarce resources, and creates a deep mistrust of police departments in the barrios, precisely those neighborhoods where local law enforcement needs the cooperation of residents to stop real crime.
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