Janet Napolitano's Final Solution for Undocumented Hispanics: More 287(g) Men



nappy2.JPG
photo by Eduardo Barraza of Barriozona.com
To borrow a line from Alfredo Gutierrez's La Frontera Times, this woman is not your friend.
Ever since Janet Napolitano's nomination to be director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, some liberals and immigrant rights activists have held out hope that Napolitano would rein in the excesses of the department's 287(g) program and its worksite enforcement raids.

The New York Times trumpeted her as "the most powerful voice of reason in a state that continues to hatch some of the dumbest, cruelest ideas anywhere for getting tough on immigrants." (And to give her some due, she did veto some of the crazier anti-immigrant legislation.) Locally, many in the pro-immigrant community remain convinced that Janet will eventually do something to bring our foaming-at-the-jaws law dog Joe Arpaio to heel as he continues to abuse his 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Just yesterday, before a press conference to denounce Sheriff Joe's medieval 200 Mexican March, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox spotted an anti-Napolitano sign held by an activist and questioned why that person had brought it. Wilcox was an ally of Napolitano while Nappy was Governor, and she apparently believes she and others can convince Napolitano to act.

But in my view, Napolitano has never really been a friend to Hispanics and recent immigrants. As governor, she did precious little to try and curtail Arpaio's extra-constitutional activities, declining to even use her bully pulpit against the Bull Connor of Arizona. In fact, Nappy helped broker the 287(g) agreement between Arpaio and the feds while guv.  And when she was U.S. Attorney for Arizona, she looked the other way during and after the Border Patrol's now-infamous 1997 Chandler Roundup of undocumented migrants.

In her Senate confirmation hearings, Napolitano bragged about signing
one of the toughest employer sanctions laws in the nation as governor,
a law authored by none other than Mesa's neo-Nazi hugging state Senator
Russell Pearce. One of Nappy's first initiatives as DHS director seeks
to streamline the processing of "criminal aliens." She's followed this
up with an "action directive" that seems almost seems ecstatic at the prospect of expanding the much-abused 287(g) program. It reads in part:

"The 287(g) program provides
for agreements whereby federally trained and supervised state and local
law enforcement officials can participate in the investigation,
apprehension, and transport of unauthorized aliens. How many officers
have been trained to date? How many agreements have been signed with
state and locals to date and how many are ready to be signed? What is the current
turnaround time to sign an agreement and what can be done to expedite more agreements? [Note: The emphasis is mine] How
does this model compare in cost, effectiveness, and administration, to
other forms of cooperation with these officials or entities? What are
the strengths and challenges with jail model agreements versus task
force model agreements?"

The expansion of the 287(g)
program is Napolitano's "final solution" for the nation's "problem" of
undocumented Hispanics. It will in effect become a national police
force focused on removing as many Hispanics from the country as
possible. American citizens of Hispanic descent, and Hispanics in the
country legally can continue to expect to be harassed by law
enforcement based on the color of their skin, or the sound of their
last names, or the language that they're speaking. While doing so, local cops will ironically have a federal
mandate


The only positive note is that Napolitano can be moved by criticism from the national press. Revelations
that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been using fugitive team
operations -- billed as manhunts for badass criminals on the lam -- to
go after nonfugitives
with no deportation orders against them, has forced Nappy to order a "review" of the program.

But
for such reviews to turn into meaningful policy reforms, the press will
have to dog Nappy like a blue tick hound after a raccoon. Because when
it comes to immigration, the Director's heart is definitely not on the side of the angels.       

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