Photo: John Moore / Getty Images


By Chris Rickerd

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times article, "Homeland Security email points to ongoing racial profiling by local police," shows that federal immigration enforcers believe in deporting people even if state or local police unconstitutionally detained them based on race.

Two construction workers were arrested for loitering by the New Llano, Louisiana Police Department. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties concluded that there was no legitimate basis for the arrests and advised that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) terminate deportation proceedings to avoid being complicit in discriminatory policing.

Instead, ICE has so far rejected that solution and the men face imminent deportation. If deportation happens, three disturbing conclusions must be drawn:

  • DHS doesn't care if racial profiling brings someone into their custody or respect the "fruit of the poisonous tree" idea that such deportations enable and encourage racial profiling;
  • The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties' advisory role is not taken seriously;
  • An administration that through its Department of Justice has done fine work in holding state and local police to account (as in Maricopa County, AZ, and Alamance County, NC) has a double standard for its DHS immigration enforcers.

Pressure is building for ICE to relent, but if the two men are deported the administration's credibility as a leader in the fight against racial profiling will be dealt a staggering blow.

Chris Rickerd is policy counsel at the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office.