What Section 287(g) of immigration act really says

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Doris Meissner and James W. Ziglar's July 22 op-ed piece, "Why the U.S. had to challenge Arizona on immigration," misstated the facts about Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That section of law establishes a mechanism for formal cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local law enforcement agencies. Then-Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and I wrote the law.

Ms. Meissner and Mr. Ziglar asserted that Arizona's immigration enforcement law "appears to go well beyond the intent of 287(g)." They also claimed that the federal government "must expressly delegate . . . authority" to states that wish to aid in the enforcement of our immigration laws.

In fact, paragraph 10 of section 287(g) specifically provides for the type of law that Arizona has enacted. It states: "Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an agreement . . . in order for any officer of a State . . . to communicate with the [Secretary of Homeland Security] regarding the immigration status of any individual . . . or otherwise to cooperate with the [Secretary] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States."

The writers may be unfamiliar with Section 287(g) because they only entered into two such agreements in their nine combined years at the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Lamar Smith, Washington

The writer is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

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