WASHINGTON — In a new letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today, the American Civil Liberties Union expresses concerns about the 287(g) program and its imminent expansion to as many as 24 additional jurisdictions across the country. The program agreements, which deputize state and local police to carry out federal immigration enforcement, are re-emerging under the Trump Administration after several years of decline.
Chris Rickerd, policy counsel for the ACLU, said:
“287(g) has long been one of the worst federal immigration enforcement programs and has directly contributed to egregious civil rights violations by notorious figures such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona as well as Sheriff Terry S. Johnson in Alamance County, North Carolina, which is re-applying to join the program. DHS should never partner with jurisdictions that have records of abuse and anti-immigrant animus.”
In the letter sent to Scott Shuchart, senior advisor for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at DHS, the ACLU urges Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reject the pending applications and terminate the program in the approximately 60 jurisdictions in 18 states that have existing agreements. The letter says:
“The Trump administration has recklessly expanded the program to include jurisdictions volunteering to join Trump’s deportation force. 287(g) has been expanded despite its troubled past, without transparency or oversight. The costs of enmeshing local law enforcement agencies in the business of federal civil immigration enforcement far outweigh the benefits. When the public isn’t sure whether police are there to protect or deport them, crimes don’t get reported and domestic violence survivors stay silent rather than calling 911.
“Leading law-enforcement voices concur in our opposition to the entanglement of immigration enforcement with state or local policing, and the 287(g) program's failed history is well documented, including by the DHS Inspector General.”
This letter also highlights civil rights concerns about 14 of the proposed jurisdictions, including Sheriff Terry S. Johnson’s Alamance County, North Carolina. The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office has a long history of egregious civil rights violations and was previously expelled from the program. The troubling and extensively documented record of civil rights abuses resulted in a 2012 lawsuit by the federal government against Sheriff Johnson.
In 2006, Sheriff Johnson sought an agreement with ICE under the program allowing local police to investigate immigration offenses. According to trial records, shortly after Alamance gained the authority under the program Sheriff Johnson ordered patrol supervisors to “arrest Hispanics” at a supervisors' meeting and informed multiple officers to arrest Latinos during vehicle checkpoints. Also around this time, the county changed its booking procedures to require detention officers to book all individuals arrested and brought to the County Jail - even those arrested for traffic offenses.
The letter is available online here: