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Janet Napolitano Urged To Cut Homeland Security Department Ties With Arizona Law Enforcement

First Posted: 05/14/10 10:28 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:30 PM ET

Janet Napolitano

The nation's largest union organization and one of its biggest civil rights groups have written a stern letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano demanding that the Department of Homeland Security cut programmatic ties with law enforcement officials in Arizona or be complicit in the state's controversial immigration law.

On Friday, the union conglomerate AFL-CIO and the civil rights coalition, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, became the latest institutions to urge for the isolation or boycott of Arizona when they requested that Homeland Security terminate its training of local law enforcement officials in the state.

"We write to express our deep concern with the Department of Homeland Security's continued cooperation with state and local law enforcement in Arizona pursuant to Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ('the 287(g) program') in the aftermath of Arizona's passage of Senate Bill 1070, and we ask that you immediately rescind all 287(g) program agreements in Arizona," the letter reads.

The message continues:

"We are grateful that President Obama has spoken out to correctly call the Arizona law 'misguided.' However, more than words are required from the federal government at this time. As we explain below, the enforcement of Arizona's law fundamentally depends on the use of federal government resources for the implementation of its racial profiling regime. Unless DHS terminates all 287(g) program agreements in Arizona, the federal government will be complicit in the racial profiling that lies at the heart of the Arizona law. Such a result would place the DHS at odds with this Administration's stated views on SBI070, and at odds with basic American values of tolerance and non-discrimination."

The letter is by far the most serious effort to date to make Arizona's new immigration law untenable for the state. Other groups have urged economic and travel boycotts as a way to target the state government's tourism revenues. Should DHS adopt the AFL-CIO's suggestion (and it's a big question whether the Department will) it would deny the state the type of law enforcement expertise that the immigration law was designed to beef up in the first place.

The legislation passed by Arizona state government would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime. It would also give law enforcement officials fairly broad powers to detain those suspected of being in the country illegally.

"A review of DHS's 287(g) program agreements in Arizona makes clear that once SB1070 becomes effective, DHS will be complicit in the enforcement of Arizona's misguided law," reads the letter, signed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "We urgently request that you exercise your authority to immediately rescind all 287(g) program agreements in Arizona and, in this manner, avoid making the federal government complicit in the enforcement of Arizona's misguided law."

Read the full letter:


AFLArizona

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