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Public Statements

H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CHU. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Polis-Chu-Cardenas amendment to strike Federal funding for the 287(g) program.

287(g) is a misguided program. While it claims to help enforce our immigration laws, it actually diverts critical law enforcement resources and makes our communities less safe. By encouraging the police to do the Federal Government's job, 287(g) breeds mistrust in local law enforcement. Immigrants worry that they will be punished or deported if they talk to the police. This means that victims will choose to suffer in silence. This means fewer witnesses will come forward to help solve crimes.

And this isn't just about undocumented immigrants being scared to come forward. Citizens and legal residents are holding back too. That's because the 287(g) program is a tool that too often relies on racial profiling. Take the case of Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona. Just a few weeks ago, a Federal judge ruled that he and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stops. It's no wonder that 44 percent of Latinos surveyed across the country said they were less likely now to contact police if they were victims of a crime. That's why 10 percent of the funding for 287(g) in this bill will be transferred to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties that investigates allegations of racial profiling against immigrant communities.

Law enforcement officials from across the country oppose 287(g) because it's getting in the way of their real job: stopping crime and keeping people safe. The 287(g) program takes cops away from going after violent criminals to focus instead on civil violations. According to FBI and census data, 61 percent of 287(g) localities had violent and property crime indices lower than the national average. Former LA Police Chief Bill Bratton decided not to participate in the 287(g) program because his officers ``can't prevent or solve crimes if victims or witnesses are unwilling to talk to us. Criminals are the biggest beneficiaries when immigrants fear the police.''

As if that weren't bad enough, the Department of Homeland Security's own inspector general couldn't tell if the 287(g) money was being used for its intended purpose. In the same 2010 program, the IG cited insufficient oversight and supervision of the 287(g) program by ICE, an ineffective complaint system for abuse, and a lack of focus on their local partners' civil rights issues.

To keep our neighborhoods safe, we need the entire community to come together to solve crimes. Without it, the LAPD would never have solved the murder of Juan Garcia, a 53-year-old homeless man who was brutally killed in an alley just west of downtown Los Angeles in 2009.

At first, the police were stumped. There were no known witnesses and few clues. Then a 43-year-old undocumented immigrant who witnessed the crime came forward and told the homicide detectives what he saw. Because of his help, a suspect was identified and arrested a few days later while hiding on skid row. Because the witnesses were not afraid to contact the police, an accused murderer was taken off the streets, and we are all a little bit safer. We need to end this program today and ensure that no murder, no theft, no assault goes unsolved because of misguided policies like 287(g).

I urge you to vote in favor of the Polis-Chu-Cardenas amendment and end funding for 287(g). It's time to let police fight crime, not illegal immigration.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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