Secret Deportation Quotas, Program Failures and High Budget Costs from Local Immigration Enforcement Revealed in Recent Reports

Secret Deportation Quotas, Program Failures and High Budget Costs from Local Immigration Enforcement Revealed in Recent Reports

Thursday, April 8, 2010




Secret Deportation Quotas, Program Failures and High Budget Costs from Local Immigration Enforcement Revealed in Recent Reports

Recent reports have raised serious concerns about program failures, secret deportation quotas and the high costs of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s controversial 287(g) program, which trains and authorizes state and local police departments to enforce federal immigration law. 

Reports Detail 287(g) Failures:  Just this past week, the Department of Homeland Security's own Office of the Inspector General published a report detailing how the 287(g) program lacks federal oversight, is poorly managed by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), lacks consistent implementation guidelines in different jurisdictions, and has failed to take any action against law enforcement agencies that are clearly violating the terms of their agreements with ICE.  This parallels a January 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that highlighted failures to meet the program's stated goals, leading to state and local police officers frequently detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants for traffic violations and other minor crimes. 

Secret Memo Reveals Deportation Quotas:  Even worse, the program appears to have been abused as part of a costly mass-deportation dragnet by federal officials to meet deportation quotas, according to an internal government memo leaked to The Washington Post on March 27th.  In the memo, James Chaparro, head of ICE detention and removal operations, outlined annual deportation quotas of 400,000, bemoaned the low level of deportations in the current year, and directed ICE regional offices to redirect their attention toward rounding up undocumented immigrants who have not committed any crimes.

This memo directly contradicts pledges from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the head of ICE, John Morton, to focus immigration enforcement on undocumented immigrants with violent records.  In the face of an outcry from immigrant rights advocates and calls for Morton's resignation, ICE almost immediately backpedaled and sought to distance itself from Chaparro's remarks by retracting the memo.  Yet the next day, Chaparro issued another memo restating his previous strategy and goals for immigration enforcement.

287(g) Focus on Minor Infractions Hurting Local Budgets:  In fact, evidence indicates that 287(g) efforts have been misused to target minor offenses rather than violent criminals, which has ended up increasing local budget costs for jurisdictions participating in the program.  According to a University of North Carolina analysis, 87% of all individuals booked through 287(g) in the state were charged with misdemeanors, while only 13% were charged with felonies.  In Gaston County, North Carolina, 95% of those charged and apprehended through the program committed misdemeanors - 60% of them for traffic violations that did not include drunk driving.

As an Immigration Policy Center analysis details, the 287(g) program operates in 67 jurisdictions in 24 states.  The program has frequently increased costs for state and local police departments, since ICE does not provide funding for police departments to implement 287(g) programs and other immigration enforcement initiatives. In addition, the program has eroded more effective community policing practices and encouraged racial profiling - often sweeping immigrants with legal status and US citizens into immigration enforcement actions. 

A University of North Carolina Latino Migration Project analysis notes the program's costs in Alamance County, North Carolina totaled $4.8 million the first year alone.  Mecklenburg County, NC devotes an estimated $5.5 million annually  to implement its 287(g) program.  A Brookings Institute report  found Virginia's Prince William County had to raise property taxes by 5 % and dip into its 'rainy day' fund to cover higher-than-anticipated costs for the 287(g) program, which totaled $6.4 million the first year alone, $1.4 million more than initial estimates. Maricopa County, Arizona's infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his draconian approach to implementing their 287(g) program created a $1.3 million budget deficit in just three months, according to a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of investigative articles from the East Valley Tribune.  States and localities who enter into 287(g) agreements also often incur indirect expenses such as litigation fees and reductions in local business revenues and sales taxes. For example, undocumented immigrants in the metropolitan Chicago area spend $2.89 billion annually on goods and services alone, creating an additional 31,908 jobs in the local economy. And North Carolina's Latino residents contribute an estimated $9.2 billion annually to the state's economy. Apprehending and eventually deporting undocumented immigrants means they are no longer consumers who contribute to state and local tax coffers every time they buy local goods.     

State and Local Communities Turning to Better Approaches:  A number of local communities have recently opted out of the program due to its high costs, including Morris County, New Jersey and Houston, Texas. The Board of Commissioners of Chatham County, North Carolina rejected adopting a 287(g) program in January 2009, citing "a lack of fiscal resources" and the "high risk of civil liability" stemming from possible lawsuits against the county.  As PSN noted last fall, many states are instead focusing on community policing approaches that seek to collaborate with immigrant communities to lower crime at far lower cost than pursuing punitive anti-immigrant enforcement policies encouraged by the 287(g) program.  Such an approach to criminal justice in immigrant communities is far more likely to be a success, especially in light of the 287(g) program's widespread failures.

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Update: Options for Reining in Corporate Election Cash in Wake of Citizens United Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision earlier this year gave corporations the same First Amendment rights as citizens with regard to advocating for or against political candidates, unleashing a flood of new corporate cash into state races and a range of new state policy initiatives that aim to protect the integrity of their elections.  In response, states are pursuing other reforms, such as requiring shareholder approval for corporations spending election cash, tighter public disclosure and attribution in ads, public financing of elections, and calling for a federal constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision.

Laws in twenty four states have been directly affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling and many states have already taken action in response to the decision.  Alaska’s Department of Law issued a memo this February stating that the state's laws prohibiting independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions in political campaigns were likely unconstitutional, but that laws related to contributions to candidates, coordinated expenditures, disclaimers, and disclosures were not directly affected.  In Michigan, the Department of State provided clarification on which portions of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act dealing with the prohibition of independent expenditures by corporations, labor organizations, or Indian tribes were unconstitutional.  In Wyoming, the House debated HB 68, which would have expressly referenced the Supreme Court’s decision by saying, “The prohibitions”¦ shall not be construed to prohibit any organization”¦ from exercising its first amendment rights," although the bill ultimately failed to pass.

Other states have denounced the decision as harmful to the process of promoting clean and fair elections.  Speaking at a US Congressional hearing on the Supreme Court decision, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock championed Montana’s laws banning corporate campaign spending in candidate elections that have been in place for about 100 years and warned that corporate money can have extreme effects on local campaigns in states like Montana, where in 2008 the average State Senator won with a total of $17,000 in spending.  Read more about Attorney General Bullock’s comments here

In California, Asm. Pedro Nava introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 3 which calls on Congress to “pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the power of Congress and state legislatures to safeguard democracy by placing appropriate limits on the ability of corporations to influence the outcome of elections through political campaign contributions and other expenditures." Hawaii's HR 204, Idaho's HJM 12,
New Jersey's AR 64, Pennsylvania HR 653, South Dakota HCR 1018, and Washington SJM 8027 similarly call on Congress to change the federal constitution to reverse the Citizens United decision.

Still, the main avenue for reform will be alternative approaches to regulating campaign donations. See this page at People For the American Way (PFAW) for an extensive list of individual state bills, but the following are a few examples of state approaches.

Requiring Shareholder Approval:  A national poll commissioned by PFAW reveals that following Citizens United, 75 % of respondents believed that a publicly traded company should get shareholder approval before being able to spend money in an election.  Bills introduced in Maryland (HB 616, HB 986, and SB 570), New York (A 9948), Iowa (SF 2354), and Wisconsin (SB 540 and AB 812) reflect these findings.  If passed, these bills would require companies to get approval from their Boards of Directors and/or stockholders before making independent expenditures.  South Dakota (SB 165) and West Virginia (HB 4646 and SB 692) also attempted to pass such provisions, but failed.  If passed, these shareholder approval laws could have a great impact on independent expenditures as many companies will not want to attempt the arduous approval process.  The Center for Competitive Politics provided a brief overview of some of the potential legal challenges for states in requiring such shareholder approval.

Disclosure and Attribution:  States including Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia are seeking to apply either old or newly-written laws surrounding campaign finance disclosure and political advertisement disclaimers.  Language in Connecticut’s HB 5471 would require the maker of an independent expenditure to identify itself.  In television or Internet video advertising, this means that an image of the entity’s Chief Executive Officer must accompany the advertisement, with a personal audio statement saying, “I am”¦(name of entity’s  Chief Executive Officer or equivalent), ”¦(title), of”¦(entity).  This message was made independent of any candidate or political party, and I approved its content.”  In Tennessee, Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Sens. Reginald Tate and Beverly Marrero are seeking to pass bills (HB 3713/SB 3798) that would make it a class B misdemeanor if corporate funds are used to help or hinder a candidate’s election campaign.

Public Financing of Elections:  Ultimately, any restriction on corporate money may be doomed to fail given the ability of companies to launder political support through multiple channels.  Instead of restricting "bad" money, many analysts see public financing of elections as the best chance to ensure that alternative voices to corporate speech get heard by the public. 

Current public financing systems mostly provide small grants to state parties (10 states), giving money to candidates in some selected races (16 states), and giving tax breaks to citizens who contribute to political campaigns (9 states).  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and Common Cause provide a breakdown of public financing provisions in the states.

A few states, including Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, have more comprehensive “Clean Elections” statutes by which state legislative candidates can receive almost all of their campaign money from public funds, and in exchange, candidates are prohibited from raising private money.  While voluntary, this version of public financing can have a huge impact on the way money and politics work together.  Maine’s program under the state's Clean Election Act has been hailed as particularly useful in that candidates running for Governor or for the State Legislature raise seed money contributions in order to qualify for full financing from the state.  In 2008, 81 percent of Maine’s legislative candidates participated because public opinion favors candidates who run clean.  See Public Campaign's website for more on clean election approaches.

With corporate political advertisements already hitting newspapers and the 2010 elections just around the corner, states are beginning to discuss action but most states have a long way to go in finding alternatives to stop corporations from taking over elections in the wake of Citizens United.

Theresa Chalhoub is a Progressive States Network Legal Intern.  She is a second year student at the New York University School of Law.

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Vote by Mail: Saving Money in Colorado

Highlighting the gains from allowing vote by mail options, Boulder County has joined a growing list of Colorado counties and localities that will conduct the 2010 primary election only by mail.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall asked the commissioners to approve the change for this year's general election primaries, saying the move would increase turnout and decrease costs.  In the 2008 primary, only 18 percent of the people who voted did so at polling places.  The vast majority, 79%, voted by mail, and 3% cast their ballots at early-voting locations.  The switch will save the county $173,386.  Last year, the state legislature passed  HB 09-1216, which  allows Colorado counties to conduct primaries entirely by mail for the first time.

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Research Roundup

Unregulated Work in Chicago: The Breakdown of Workplace Protections in the Low-Wage Labor Market - Surveying 1,140 low-wage workers from Cook County, the Center for Urban Economic Development found that 47% work in offices, restaurants or work sites where employment laws are routinely ignored or exploited.  26% of workers were paid less than the minimum wage and 67% of those working more than 40 hours per week did not receive overtime pay.  As a result, workers lost an average of $50 per week due to forms of wage theft totaling a projected $7 million stolen from low-wage workers in the region.

Build America Bonds Will Save $12.3 Billion - According to a new report by the US Treasury Department, state and local governments will eventually save $12.3 billion from bonds issued in the first year of the Build America Bonds program compared with what they would have spent by issuing traditional tax-exempt bonds to finance projects. The Build America Bonds have appealed to a broader set of investors, including pension funds and sovereign wealth funds controlled by foreign governments, and the wider demand has probably helped drive down interest rates for the bonds, the analysis found.

Hard to Swallow: Do Private Food Service Contractors Shortchange New Jersey Schools? - SEIU Local 32BJ commissioned the Clarion Group to analyze contracts and financial data of 10 school districts that outsource their food services to two companies, Chartwells and Sodexo.  They found that the corporations overcharged the 10 districts by $320,000 and "if the approximately 378 New Jersey school districts using FSMCs are also being overcharged at the same rate, the total amount of taxpayer money being misappropriated would come to $12 million, or enough to pay the annual salaries of 186 New Jersey teachers."  Finally, the report recommends greater transparency in the contracting process.

An Overview of State Campaigns, 2007-2008 - Campaigns for state legislatures raised a record-breaking $1 billion for the first time ever, according to a new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.  The money raised in 2008 was 9 percent more than was raised in 2006 and 26 percent more than was raised in 2004 (the last comparable election cycle).  The report also found that although nearly two-thirds of the legislative races were contested, just one-third of those races were monetarily competitive (where the winner raised less than twice as much money as his or her opponent).

Weathering the Storm: Have IDAs Helped Low-Income Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure? - Low-income homeowners who participated in programs that used Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to purchase homes were two to three times less likely to lose their homes to foreclosure, according to a new report from the Center for Enterprise Development and the Urban Institute.  Individuals in IDA programs, in which the government matched savings by low-income individuals, also obtained significantly preferable mortgage loan terms, with only 1.5 percent having high-interest mortgage rates, compared to 20 percent of the broader sample.

Reports on Health Care Implementation

  • Interactive Health Care Calculator for Small Businesses: Small Businesses Will Gain Under New Health Reform Bill - This calculator from the Center for American Progress helps small business employers determine the premium subsidies for which they are eligible in the years leading up to the establishment of the state health exchanges (2010-2013), and once the exchanges are established (2014).  The smaller the firm and the lower its average wages, the larger share of premiums the tax credit will pay.
  • Key Health Insurance Market Reforms Not Achievable Without an Individual Mandate - Repealing the individual health insurance mandate would undermine the ability to prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, charging higher premiums based on a person’s health status or gender, or placing annual or lifetime caps on covered benefits, according to this report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • HHS Letter to Governors on High Risk Pools- Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sebelius sent a letter to the nation's governors and insurance commissioners on April 2 to jump start the process for states to establish temporary high risk pools.  HHS will carry out the program directly or through contracts with states or private nonprofit entities.  Sebelius is requesting each state's interest in participating in the high risk pool program and outlines the several implementation options available for the states.
  • Health Insurance Implementation Guides - The National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Maine Bureau of Insurance have developed a set of tables that list a number of the insurance related provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The four tables address immediate improvements, state exchanges, market reforms and small business tax credits.  Each table provides details on individual provisions within the Act, the entity responsible for developing standards, effective dates and the applicable section within the PPACA.

Please email us leads on good research at


Secret Deportation Quotas, Program Failures and High Budget Costs from Local Immigration Enforcement Revealed in Recent Reports

Progressive States Network - Community Policing as an Alternative to Local Enforcement of Immigration Law, Community Policing Conference Call
Immigration Policy Center - Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws Through the 287(g) Program: Time, Money, and Resources Don't Add Up to Community Safety
Justice Strategies -  Local Democracy on ICE: Why State and Local Governments Have No Business in Federal Immigration Law Enforcement
Government Accountability Office -  Immigration Enforcement: Better Controls Needed Over Program Authorizing State and Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws
Department of Homeland Security - The Performance of 287(g) Agreements
Migration Policy Institute - A Program In Flux: New Priorities and Implementation Challenges for 287(g)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Latino Migration Project - The 287(g) Program: The Costs and Consequences of Local Immigration Enforcement in North Carolina Communities
Immigration and Human Rights Policy Clinic at UNC Chapel Hill and ACLU-NC - The Policies and Politics of Local Immigration Enforcement Laws: 287(g) Program in North Carolina
University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Urban Economic Development - Chicago’s Undocumented Immigrants: An Analysis of Wages, Working Conditions, And Economic Contributions
American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation & University of North Carolina Immigration and Human Rights Policy Clinic - The Policies and Politics of Local Immigration Enforcement Laws: the 287 (g) Program in North Carolina
The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy - Fact Sheet: Immigrants' Economic Contributions - Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class: 2009 Edition
Center for American Progress - The Costs of Mass Deportation: Impractical, Expensive, and Ineffective

Update: Options for Reining in Corporate Election Cash in Wake of Citizens United Supreme Court Decision

Progressive States Network -States Act to Limit Judicial Ruling Allowing Corporations to Spend Directly to Elect or Defeat Candidates
People for the American Way - Legislation to Fix Citizens United
Brennan Center for Justice - Shareholder Consent is Key in Political Spending
National Conference of State Legislatures- Life after Citizens United
Public Campaign - In-Depth Resources on Public Financing of State Elections

Vote by Mail: Saving Money in Colorado

Progressive States Network - Mail-in and Early Voting
Boulder Daily Camera - Boulder County will use mail-in ballots only for August primaries
FairVote - Vote by Mail
Stateline: Oregon - The Vote is in the Mail
Common Cause - Vote by Mail Elections


The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Executive Director
Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Fabiola Carrion, Broadband & Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Enzo Pastore, Health Care Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigrant Rights Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax & Budget Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Outreach and Administrative Specialist
Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager

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