The failure to pass any kind of comprehensive immigration reform since 1996 (and this was not good legislation) has left states and localities going in different directions, simultaneously creating serious challenges to federal authority and deepening the partisan divide into red and blue geographic zones. For example, in the wake of Trump’s declaration of a national emergency (a probably unconstitutional end-around of Congress to get more money and authorization for a wall few people really want), 16 states filed lawsuits challenging the executive order. Meanwhile, Kentucky's House passed a resolution thanking Trump for issuing the executive order.
Today we take a look at some other examples of state and local governments navigating immigration policy, inevitably leading to a hodgepodge of laws governed by local contingencies (and political coalitions) rather than a national standard of justice.
Florida expanding 287-g programs
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, used the modest expansion of an existing program as a photo-op to disparage what he calls “illegal immigrants.”
Standing beside a woman who lost a relative to a traffic accident 18 years ago, possibly caused by an undocumented migrant, DeSantis announced new 287-g agreements between the federal government and Hernando and Pasco Counties. 287-g programs are established through direct agreements between local and federal officials, and effectively deputize local police to act as immigration enforcement officers. Florida has five counties now participating in the program. DeSantis is thus not directly involved, but happy to take some pictures. He also states that he was hoping to expand monitoring into Florida’s expansive state prison system.
[Note: There have been many successful campaigns to suspend, or block implementation of 287-g programs. A list of 287-g agreements, and campaigns to end them here.]
Charlotte, NC facing divisions over ICE Activity
In Charlotte, North Carolina, a recent surge in ICE Activity has angered local residents, who are looking for the local government to intervene.
From the Charlotte Observer:
In the wake of a wave of mass arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier in February, Mayor Vi Lyles said she has created an ad hoc city council committee that will conduct outreach to the city’s immigrant communities.
But that response was too little and too late for many immigration advocates, who packed city council on Monday evening as they called on its members to take a stronger stance against the arrests.
They slammed Lyles and the council for failing to put out a statement condemning ICE. And they asked for the council to add immigration reform to its federal legislative agenda — a move it had declined to make at previous meetings.
ICE argued that they had no choice but to set up activity on the street in Charlotte because the county has no 287-g program.
California is pushing back against inadequate federal inspections
ICE facilities operate under direct contracts between ICE and vendors, usually private companies. DHS and ICE are supposed to oversee inspections of these facilities, and hold contractors who violate the law accountable. DHS does inspections. They do find violations. However, little changes as a result, and offending companies continue to get contracts.
California is now taking on inspection obligations for facilities inside the state. As reported in Associated Press coverage:
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a report Tuesday that also found that detainees face long periods of confinement without breaks and language barriers in the 10 detention facilities state authorities inspected in 2017.
Becerra says the state Legislature requires the California Department of Justice to inspect and report on the facilities' conditions over the next 10 years. That law was one of three "sanctuary state'' laws the Trump Administration unsuccessfully challenged in federal court.
“We’re committed to upholding the welfare of all people in California, including those in local detention facilities pending immigration proceedings,” Becerra said. “At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to review detention facilities in our state and shine much-needed light on civil detention conditions.”