The Obama administration plans to place federal employees in the largest immigration detention facilities in the country to monitor detainee treatment.
This oversight role is currently handled by private contractors. But under the new plan, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials would be placed at the largest jails to directly supervise how the detention centers are managed, according to people briefed on the government's plan.
The government has been criticized for its treatment of immigration detainees, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made detention policies a top priority for her department.Separately, DHS is forcing Sheriff Joe in Arizona (and perhaps other similarly situated law enforcement officials) to make a difficult choice under new 278(g) enforcement and detention policies:
Valley residents are getting used to the fanfare and bitter debate that accompany Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "crime suppression operations," like the one in Chandler nearly two weeks ago. It has been 18 months since Arpaio launched the first raid in central Phoenix, but do they work?
Arpaio says "yes": The operations clear warrants, nab illegal immigrants and reinforce the message that illegal immigrants aren't welcome in the county...
It's those undocumented immigrants accused of committing crimes that the federal government now wants local law-enforcement to target. The Department of Homeland Security clarified its policy last month to reiterate that local agencies participating in the 287(g) program should only target "criminal aliens," those who have committed a crime other than illegal border crossing.
Arpaio has less than 90 days to weigh the two strategies as he considers his continued participation in the federal program.
If he accepts the new policy, he can still conduct sweeps, but his deputies will have to release illegal immigrants who have not committed crimes. If that policy had been in effect during the past 18 months, the Sheriff's Office would have had to release 150 of the sweeps detainees. If Arpaio doesn't agree to the terms, he won't be able to continue the identification program in the jails.