ICE Should End, Not Expand Agreements With Local And State Law Enforcement, Says ACLU

October 16, 2009 12:00 am

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Standardized 287(g) Agreements Fail To Prevent Racial Profiling And Due Process Violations

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WASHINGTON – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced new Section 287(g) Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with 67 state and local law enforcement agencies. These agreements expand the existing 287(g) program, which delegates some federal immigration enforcement authority to certain state and local agencies. The American Civil Liberties Union has long called for an end to the 287(g) program and continues to strongly oppose ICE’s use of the agreements, which have led to increased racial profiling and due process violations across the country.

In recent years, the 287(g) program has come under intense scrutiny. Over 500 organizations have called on the government to end the program. Several agencies that participate in the program have been accused of profiling and other civil rights abuses, including the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office headed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which is currently being investigated by the federal Justice Department and has been sued by the ACLU for profiling. ICE’s announcement today also acknowledged that six agencies that previously participated in 287(g) have decided to drop the program.

The Obama administration first announced that it would press forward with the 287(g) program, which was strongly supported by the Bush administration, in July. At that time, ICE claimed that it had developed a new “standardized” MOA that would guard against program abuses, but examination of the actual standardized agreement revealed that it did not contain significant safeguards or oversight provisions and, in fact, introduced new areas of concern, particularly relating to transparency. The ACLU urges ICE to release the newly signed agreements for public review immediately so that they can be compared to the MOA announced in July and so that everyone can understand the rules under which 287(g) agencies operate.

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“ICE’s announcement on 287(g) makes no mention of any oversight, monitoring, or accountability mechanisms to address racial profiling and other civil rights violations – and no commitment to address these very real problems. Instead, ICE has actually re-authorized agencies that have abused their authority, including the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Disregarding civil rights, breaking bonds between immigrant communities and the police and failing to intelligently prioritize enforcement will only make all of us worse off. ICE should terminate the program immediately.”

The following can be attributed to Omar Jadwat, staff attorney for the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project:

“The federal government’s decision to continue with the 287(g) program is shortsighted and disappointing, and signals a troubling unwillingness to grapple with the failings of our broken immigration enforcement system. However, we are encouraged by the decision of several agencies that previously had 287(g) agreements not to continue with the program, and we hope that ICE will ultimately adopt a similar position and end 287(g).”

Last month, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called on the U.S. government to “reconsider its policy under 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act” and “strengthen training and awareness raising in order to avoid racial profiling in the migration context.”

The letter from CERD to the U.S. government can be found online at:

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