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Rights groups urge feds to reject 287(g)

A coalition of faith groups, civil and human rights organizations, and government officials have asked the Department of Homeland Security to reject Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request to allow the Virginia Department of State Police to enter into a 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A 287(g) agreement, named after a provision of federal law, authorizes local or state law enforcement agencies to enforce civil or criminal violations of federal immigration law.

The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations and associated groups presented at a press conference held in Arlington Wednesday a formal letter addressed to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to reject Gov. McDonnell’s request. In addition, VACOLAO members will speak about the negative effects of other local 287(g) programs already in place in Virginia. These negative effects include an increase in racial profiling and corresponding decrease in trust of police by the immigrant community – including legal residents and citizens of Latino descent – as well as diversion of law enforcement resources.

“The result of these 287(g) agreements has been abuse and illegal profiling by local law enforcement in Virginia and across the country,” said Edgar Aranda, chair of VACOLAO and organizer for the Legal Aid Justice Center. “Immigration enforcement belongs in the hands of federal immigration agents trained in federal immigration and racial profiling laws, not in the hands of state or local law enforcement.”

“As one might expect, state and local enforcement of federal immigration law has presented challenges for immigrants,” said Jorge Figueredo, director of racial justice and immigrants’ rights at the ACLU of Virginia. “Since my office opened in Northern Virginia in June, 2008, I have received cases of racial profiling and excessive use of force by local police against immigrants, arising from Prince William County, Manassas, Loudoun, and Herndon, among others – jurisdictions where 287(g) agreements between local law enforcement agencies and ICE are already in place.”

The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations is an umbrella group which includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Legal Aid Justice Center, League of United Latin American Citizens, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, American Jewish Committee, Arlington County Board Member J. Walter Tejada, Asian Pacific American Legal Aid Resource Center, The Hispanic Community Dialogue in Virginia Beach, Hispanic National Bar Association, Latino Federation of Greater Washington, Shirlington Employment and Education Center, Tenants and Workers United,, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and other organizations.

A copy of VACOLAO’s letter to Secretary Napolitano is available online at

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at