Arizona's Aggressive Stand on Immigration

With immigration reform stalled in Washington, states have taken to passing their own border-related laws. But few have been as strict as the one OK'd last week by Arizona's state Senate. The bill, which is expected to be signed by the governor, requires police to investigate anyone they have "reasonable suspicion" may be in the country illegally—a measure that proponents claim will enhance public safety, making it easier for the feds to deport violent criminals before they strike.

But based on the results of a similar national program, the opposite may be true. Since 2006 almost $184 million has been spent on 287(g), a federal-state alliance that turns local police officers into deputized immigration agents—empowered (but not required) to check the status of anyone suspected of a crime. The goal: weed out "dangerous criminal aliens." But last year the leaders of more than 50 urban police departments attacked the program as counterproductive, saying it foils real police work by scaring off people who might otherwise be witnesses or informants. And earlier this month the Department of Homeland Security's inspector-general found that just 9 percent of the almost 145,000 people arrested under 287(g) were actually violent offenders. DHS responded by saying the program has been recalibrated, training officers to focus only on the worst of the worst. Arizona might want to consider doing the same.

Arizona's Aggressive Stand on Immigration | U.S.