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Lawmakers renew calls to review controversial program partnering ICE with local law enforcement

Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 11:02pm
Updated: Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 2:19pm

A group in Congress is renewing calls to review and end 287(g) — a Department of Homeland Security program that has local law enforcement agencies partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Local law enforcement agencies sign 287(g) agreements committing to various levels of collaboration with ICE. 

Rights activists have argued the program increases racial profiling by tasking local law enforcement officers with enforcing federal immigration policy.

In a letter to DHS this week, nearly 50 members of Congress say the program undermines public safety and increases rights violations, and should be dismantled. It's the latest in a series of letters sent by the lawmakers since 2021 regarding the program. They say while Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson committed to reviewing the program after their initial request last year, no plan or timeline has been put in place for that process since then. 

"The agency currently has more than 140 agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in deportation efforts around the country, compared to fewer than 35 such agreements at the conclusion of the Obama administration," the letter reads. "It is all too easy to imagine a subsequent administration using this program to turbo charge a deportation agenda, conscripting local police to identify and arrest millions of our immigrant loved ones and neighbors."

Matt Hedrick, deputy chief of the adult detention center at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, says the 287(g) agreement there applies to anyone booked into the county jail. 

"Once we determine that they are foreign-born and without citizenship, then we contact ICE. They’ll make the decision on whether they want to detain them, or not," he said.  

Hedrick says his office calls ICE after the individual's case with Pinal County is adjudicated.

The county's 287(g) agreement began in 2009 and Hendrick says his office intends to renew it again in 2023. He says he believes the program increases public safety in the county. His office is one of five law enforcement agencies in Arizona that have active 287(g) agreements, according to a count by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Others, such as one part of a law enforcement task force in Pima County, are no longer active.