A new report by Berkeley Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity reveals that Hispanics in Irving, Texas were unjustly targeted as part of an effort to enforce federal immigration laws.
From January 2006 through November 2007, Irving’s police department worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as part of the federal Criminal Alien Program to deport serious criminal offenders. During the program’s most intense phase, the number of Hispanic arrests for minor crimes increased by nearly 150 percent.
The report, from data first obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, provides the first analysis of the effect of local police involvement in immigration enforcement—historically a federal function. More information about the report is available here.
Although the Criminal Alien Program purportedly sought to target serious criminals for deportation, just 2 percent of those detained by immigration authorities over a 14-month period were charged with felonies. Irving police arrested Hispanics for misdemeanors in far greater numbers than Whites and African-Americans, and in July 2007 the number of Hispanic traffic arrests went up 223 percent compared to just three months earlier.
The Criminal Alien Program in Irving was scaled back in November 2007 amid complaints of racial profiling—and that Hispanics were being arrested for minor charges as a pretext to examining their citizenship and immigration status.
The Warren Institute’s report issued several recommendations to improve the program before it expands nationwide: examine the impact of local partnerships with immigration enforcement, bar criminal alien screenings of individuals arrested for petty offenses, and mandate that local police partnering with federal immigration authorities record arrest data by race, ethnicity, and level of offense.