U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement officers to act as immigration enforcement officers, is not targeting dangerous criminals and lacks federal oversight, according to a report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The congressionally commissioned GAO report is "sounding an alarm" that federal Homeland Security officials need to hear, according to the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center (IPC).

The GAO report found that ICE's lack of guidelines for the 287(g) program has led to confusion and mismanagement, and a failure to oversee the 67 federal/local partnerships founded under the program could result in police officers misusing the authority granted under 287(g). "The report echoes the conclusions reached by others who have studied local law enforcement of immigration laws," IPC Director Angela Kelley said in a statement. "The costs of these policies are enormous to communities; safety, civil rights and pocketbooks. As [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano and her staff begin their review of immigration enforcement tactics, we urge them to consider the totality of evidence coming from the community and acknowledge the full scope of the problems presented by 287(g)."

View the GAO report, "Immigration Enforcement: Controls over Program Authorizing State and Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws Should Be Strengthened." More IPC research on 287(g) and the role of local law enforcement in immigration enforcement is available at Immigration Policy Center's Web site.