The Government Accountability Office report on the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program was the equivalent of a gang-banger drive-by shooting.  The House Homeland Security Committee used the report to hold a hearing for brow beating the department’s program which facilitates cooperation between Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and state and local law enforcement on immigration-related criminal and terrorism investigations (as well as working with prisons and jails to ensure convicted felony aliens are deported).

Improving oversight of the program is a great idea. Imposing micromanagement 287(g) (and other ICE ACCESS that facilitate cooperation); taking away the authority of state and local officials to determine how best use their resources to uphold the rule of law in their communities; and killing the program rather than making it a more effective tool is not a good idea.

As Sheriff Charles Jenkins of Frederick, Maryland testified at the hearing, 287(g) is an important and valuable program. It needs to be expanded, not killed.

Furthermore, rolling back effective internal enforcement of immigration laws, particularly in the workplace, is a really bad idea—the surest way to kill the prospects for further immigration reform.  An amnesty-first strategy formed the basis of the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli legislation, Washington’s last major attempt at an overhaul. Then, an estimated 3 million were unlawfully present. Now it’s easily five times that number. Rampant fraud and a tsunami of applications overwhelmed the system. The number of visas for legal workers was far too small to meet the needs of the economy. Border security and workplace enforcement  were poorly implemented and couldn’t keep up with the demand for undocumented workers.

Americans got burned on immigration reform promises before. It is unlikely they will sign up for them this time—unless they believe the laws are really being enforced. Without enforcement were are doomed to immigration inertia.

Cross posted at