Congressional Hispanic Caucus: Homeland Security Should Suspend AZ Partnerships

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants the Department of Homeland Security to stop partnering with Arizona police and to send officers to monitor civil rights in the state before Arizona's new immigration law goes into effect by August.

Three members of the Hispanic caucus, including Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez, sent a letter today asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to suspend her department's efforts to collaborate with local law enforcement in Arizona, in light of the new law. Specifically, the CHC wants DHS to suspend its Secure Communities and 287g programs, under which the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement division collaborates and shares information with local law enforcers to enforce immigration laws.

287g allows local law enforcers to enter into an agreement with the federal government in which ICE delegates immigration-enforcement authority to state and local police; Secure Communities is an information-sharing program, under which records obtained when criminal suspects are taken into custody--e.g., fingerprints, other records and biometrics--are shared with ICE. (That program has come under fire before; recently, Washington, DC's City Council endorsed a bill to halt DC's cooperation in the program. An ICE spokeswoman defended Secure Communities in a statement at the time.)

Here's the letter, which also offers some general criticism of DHS's immigration-enforcement partnerships:

It's worth noting that DHS personnel will not be enforcing the new law, SB 1070; that law creates a separate authority for immigration enforcement at the state level, which the Department of Justice is currently reviewing.