While the Obama administration has promoted the detention of illegal immigrants with a criminal history, some U.S. law enforcement officers may be taking the word “criminal” a little too harshly.
According to the Maryland Examiner, nearly half of all illegal immigrant arrests in Frederick County are for minor traffic violations or for driving without a license. Maryland stopped providing the immigration service of a state driver’s license to illegal immigrants in 2009.
According to county records, 187 suspected illegal immigrants were taken into custody in 2011, with 65 held for driving without a license and 23 for traffic violations. Only 22 were arrested for assault, and four for sexual offenses.
“Individuals are taken into custody by law enforcement officers based on arrestable offenses as defined by Maryland law,” said Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Captain Tim Clarke. “No, we do not focus on minor offenses. We simply process each individual that comes into our facility as an arrestee. We have no influence on who an individual officer arrests and why that individual is arrested.”
Critics of Maryland’s arresting history have said the large number of arrests occur on behalf of the state’s 287(g) program, which many immigration advocates say invites racial profiling. American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel member Joanne Lin said in a statement that the law has promoted unmonitored immigration authority across the state.
“ICE has completely shirked its legal duty to train and supervise 287(g) officers and has instead unleashed a slew of unmonitored state and local law officers across America – many of whom are using federal immigration authority as a cloak to engage in racial profiling,” Lin said.
However, racial profiling-related arrests appear to be falling, according to The Frederick News-Post. In 2009 and 2010, 285 and 227 people, respectively, were arrested and identified as illegal immigrants, compared to only 187 in 2011.