One of the nation's most influential labor groups and a civil rights organization on Friday urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to end programs with Arizona law enforcement agencies over the state's controversial immigration law.
The AFL-CIO and the Leadership Conference penned a letter to Napolitano, saying that while the administration has said it is opposed to the law, they need to be doing more to protest it.
"Unless DHS terminates aU 287(g) program agreements in Arizona, the federal government will be complicit in the racial profiling that lies at the heart of the Arizona law," the letter says.
The letter is one of the most high-profile attempts to reprimand Arizona because of the measure. Critics say the law will likely lead to racial profiling of Latinos, but supporters counter the law is necessary because the federal government has not secured the borders, leading to a crime wave related to cross-border activity.
It also represents a split between constituencies that the Obama administration usually considers allies; big labor and civil rights groups.
The 287(g) program is a partnership between federal and local law enforcement officials that provides federal training for local agents to enforce immigration laws. The program targets serious criminal aliens who pose a public safety threat, according to DHS officials.
The officials say that entering into 287(g) agreements with the federal government would actually be more beneficial to local authorities, such as Arizona, because they could receive federal training for which the Arizona law does not provide.
President Barack Obama has called the law "misguided" but activists and members of Congress on the left have urged far more robust action. Several House Democrats have called on Obama to lead an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year that would secure the border and provide a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.
"The president ordered [the Department of Justice] to examine the civil rights and other implications of this law," DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler said in an e-mail. "That review will inform the government’s actions going forward."
Several Democratic members of Congress have urged Major League Baseball to move next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix. The city of Los Angeles has also announced a boycott of the state.
The letter was co-signed by Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, and Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference.
This post was updated at 2:07 p.m.