Immigrants’ Rights Organizations Urge Homeland Security Secretary to Reassess 287(g) Following New Racial Profiling Guidance

June 15, 2023 9:45 am

WASHINGTON — More than 100 civil and immigrants’ rights organizations are calling on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reassess and rescind 287(g) agreements, which tap local police for immigration enforcement, following the release of revised racial profiling guidance from the Justice Department.

In a letter sent to Secretary Mayorkas today, the groups — which include the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Project (NIPNLG), National Immigrant Justice Center, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Freedom for Immigrants, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, United We Dream, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and nearly 100 other organizations — highlight that the history of the 287(g) program is rife with “exactly the illicit forms of racial profiling and stereotyping that the DOJ guidance seeks to eliminate.” The letter says that the department’s 287(g) agreements with anti-immigrant sheriffs across the country “have become harmful tools of law enforcement regimes that intentionally target immigrants, as well as potent political symbols for rightwing idealogues seeking to provoke white supremacist sentiment and foment anti-immigrant animus.”

“Through the 287(g) program, the Biden administration is empowering sheriffs with records of racism, anti-immigrant hate, and civil rights violations, in direct contravention of its racial justice commitments,” said Naureen Shah, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “As a candidate, President Biden committed to reversing the Trump administration’s massive expansion of this program, but his administration has failed to take meaningful action. Through the program, Homeland Security collaborates with sheriffs who have some of the worst records of civil rights abuses; ending these collaborations should be an easy call.”

The 287(g) program taps hundreds of officers at 138 state and local law enforcement agencies around the country to help ICE identify, detain, and deport immigrants inside the United States. As the ACLU documented in an April 2022 report, racial profiling and other civil rights violations are harming communities in many of the places where the 287(g) program is in place. Other research has shown that local law enforcement collaboration with ICE reduces residents’ willingness to report crime or assist with investigations, seriously hampering law enforcement’s ability to perform their jobs.

“President Biden must make good on his campaign promise to end the 287(g) program once and for all,” said Sirine Shebaya, executive director for the National Immigration Project. “The newly-released DOJ racial justice guidance presents a perfect opportunity for the administration to acknowledge and address the many harms this program has caused to immigrant communities. For decades the program has operated to target and criminalize immigrants of color, and has emboldened racist law enforcement officers whose goal is simply to create a pipeline to deportation. Two years into the Biden administration, it is past time for this program to end.”

“It is time for the Biden administration to listen to the immigrant community and end partnerships with local law enforcement and sheriffs engaged in racist policing practices” said Nithya Nathan-Pineau, policy attorney & strategist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC). “The administration should end all current 287(g) agreements as an important first step to disentangle local law enforcement from immigration enforcement.”

“Cooperation between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration authorities decreases public safety by instilling fear in local communities and fostering a mistrust of public institutions, ” said Nayna Gupta, associate director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). “Ending 287(g) agreements is long overdue both to remedy racial injustice and support safety for Black and Brown immigrant communities.”

“The 287(g) program further emboldens sheriffs to disproportionately profile Black and brown community members, strip people of their rights, and expand the detention to deportation dragnet,” said Andrea Carcamo, policy director with Freedom for Immigrants. “President Biden once promised to end this pervasive overreach of law enforcement and create a more fair immigration system. It’s time he acted.”

The letter is here: https://nipnlg.org/sites/default/files/2023-06/2023_June-DOJ-letter-DHS.pdf

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