Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Hope for Victims of 287(g)?

Glenn Hutchinson • May 08, 2010

287gAn immigrant victimized by 287(g) gets some hope. Maybe hope can spread to Arizona.

After being wrongly arrested, Abel Moreno, 29, can remain in the U.S. for six more months as he applies for a visa.

In a recent blog, I wrote about Abel Moreno’s story. Last December in Charlotte, police officer Marcus Jackson pulled over Moreno and his girlfriend. According to Moreno, after she got out of the car, the officer sexually assaulted her and fondled her breasts.

While the abuse happened, Moreno called 911 to report it. Officer Jackson ordered him to get off the phone and then arrested him (click to hear 911 call). When taken to jail, Moreno’s immigration status was checked because our police participate in the 287(g) program in which local police enforce immigration law. Moreno then was charged with being an illegal immigrant and was to be deported back to Mexico.

However, more women came forward, and Officer Jackson has been accused of sexually attacking five other women while working for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department. Also, Moreno’s girlfriend has reported that Officer Jackson had abused her previously during a traffic stop in November.

Even though the charge of resisting an officer was dropped, Moreno still faced possible deportation.

Fortunately, Judge Barry Pettinato ruled this week that Moreno could stay in the U.S. until November. Because Moreno is now a witness against Officer Jackson, there is hope that he can get a U visa.

Moreno’s case shows the problem with 287(g). According to a recent article in the Charlotte Observer, 8,800 people, the majority Latino, have been deported because of this program in my community. Over 100,000 are estimated to have been jailed and removed nationwide.

287(g) creates distrust between the community and the police. Latino immigrants are less likely to report crimes. UNC School of Law researchers conclude that 287(g) has “created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity.”

Former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton also has criticized 287(g) and is concerned that 67 state and local law enforcement agencies are involved in this system across the country. Bratton cites an April 2009 study by the Police Foundation and concludes that 287(g) “undermines [the police’s] core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in communities that are already distrustful of police.”

As thousands are arrested and deported across this country, we need to stop this program and the other racial profiling laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070.

Of course, most police officers are not like Officer Jackson. I salute the hard work that law enforcement does to protect us. However, 287(g) does not make us any safer and creates more problems.

Yes, we need comprehensive immigration reform, but 287(g) makes things worse. Moreno should not have to risk deportation because he tried to protect his girlfriend from sexual assault. In America, we’re better than that.

In a TV News Interview when asked if he had to do it all over again, would Moreno still risk deportation by making that 911 call?

Moreno replied, “Yes, absolutely yes.”

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