Deportations of illegal immigrants have increased under President Obama’s first two years in office but the administration is apparently searching for more ways to ensnare and deport undocumented people with criminal backgrounds. A pilot program in the San Diego County town of Escondido could be a sign of things to come—two agents of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency have been working out of the Escondido police department for the past several months, joining in standard police stops that involved suspected illegal immigrants. If any suspected illegal immigrants are detained during the regular work of Escondido police, from traffic stops to gang sweeps, ICE agents quickly get involved to determine if the suspect has a criminal background or a pending deportation order. The program in Escondido, dubbed “Joint Effort,” has arrested 303 illegal immigrants and placed them in deportation proceedings. Is this new kind of cooperation between local police and ICE to enforce immigration laws a good step or a potentially abusive program?
Jim Maher, Escondido Chief of Police
Kevin Keenan, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties