Immigration Forum Responds to 287(g) I.G. Report

It’s about time law enforcement agencies, including the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, ended the 287(g) program. Here’s why!

FROM THE NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM:

Washington, DC Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released a report on the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s 287(g) program. This program authorizes local law enforcement agents to enforce federal immigration laws.  The program has created tensions within communities where local law enforcement agents have used their delegated authority to conduct large-scale operations in Latino and immigrant communities.  Law enforcement organizations and officials have cautioned against participating in 287(g) partnerships that foster community distrust and operate with inadequate supervision.  The Inspector General’s report indicates that ICE has little control over the program, and is unable to assess whether it meets ICE’s stated goals.  Following is a statement by Brittney Nystrom, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs for the National Immigration Forum, a non-Partisan pro-immigrant advocacy organization based in Washington.

Today’s Inspector General’s report on ICE’s 287(g) program confirms our worst suspicions about this program. While some local law enforcement agencies continue to use this program to intimidate and terrorize immigrant communities, ICE does not have the structures in place to evaluate or restrain the actions of rogue enforcement agencies.  The Inspector General calls attention to the program’s inability to safeguard civil rights and civil liberties, to assess the program’s effectiveness in targeting dangerous individuals, to properly train officers enrolling in the program, to receive and respond to community input, and to oversee local officers enrolled in the program. In sum, the Inspector General made 33 recommendations for fundamental reforms necessary to make the program accountable and effective in its mission.

We believe the program has proven itself to be beyond repair and should be terminated.

Particularly troubling is the program’s lack of concern about civil liberties and civil rights.  The Inspector General found that in program documents, training, and tracking, there is little thought given to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties of those who come into contact with program officers.  According to the IG, “an emphasis on civil rights and civil liberties was not formally included in the 287(g) application, review, and selection process, or in draft procedures for modifying, extending, or terminating existing” 287(g) agreements. In its training materials for officers enrolling in the program, the IG found there is “limited coverage” of civil rights law and of public outreach and complaint procedures.  There are not even guidelines for handling complaints of civil rights violations by local officers enrolled in the program.

Given the well-documented abuses committed by some local enforcement agencies enrolled in this program, the lack of concern with the civil rights record of enrolled agencies is astounding.

Also troubling is the program’s the lack of ability to track whether it meets ICE’s stated goals for the program-to remove non-citizens who pose a threat to public safety or a danger to the community.  In fact, the IG found that ICE’s performance measures are more concerned with the quantity of arrests rather than adherence to program goals.  This raises again the specter of arrest quotas driving ICE’s detention and removal operations, which have been the subject of criticism earlier this week.

The 287(g) program strikes at the heart of the ability of local police to gain the trust of immigrant populations in their communities.  Law enforcement officers know that to be effective at crime control, they must have public support.  Since its implementation, we have seen rogue agencies use the program to carry out an anti-immigrant agenda, terrorizing immigrant communities, resulting in dozens of allegations of racial profiling and civil rights abuses.

The Inspector General’s report shows that ICE is a very long way from being able to get this program under control.  It should be abandoned.

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