Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Illinois mayors are frustrated waiting for 287(g) training, say they think the program is dead

Mayors in Waukegan and Carpentersville, Illinois are fuming. Months after they applied for federal 287(g) training so that their police could deport criminal illegals, they are now convinced the program is dead.

They suspect the program is plagued by such a lack of funding and such a lack of political will in Washington that it might never come to their towns. Neither municipality has heard from the federal agency charged with providing the training though they applied more than 10 months ago.

"It's dead," Waukegan Mayor Richard Hyde said of the program he favors, known as 287(g). "My own personal opinion is the [federal authorities] are not going to implement it at all," he said.

Federal immigration officials say the program is moving along smoothly, if slowly. Three police forces in North Carolina are being trained this month, said Richard Rocha, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the program, adding “It's proven very successful.” So far, 47 law-enforcement agencies have implemented the program in 17 states. Another 92 applications are pending, including five in Illinois. Officials say they expect it eventually to be implemented in every town that applies.

Alabama state police force received training in 2003, and since then, troopers have begun proceedings to deport 400 undocumented immigrants. In Arizona, the program has been used to deport smugglers caught transporting illegal workers across the border.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said he expects the program to be implemented in Illinois, citing broad support for empowering local police to begin the process of deporting convicted felons in the country illegally. Kirk said the program has support “not only from American voters but also many within the Latino community.”

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