New ACLU Report Finds Dozens of Sheriffs Partnering on Federal Immigration Enforcement Have Records of Racism, Abuse, and Violence 

Conduct of sheriffs with 287 (g) agreements undermines Biden’s commitment to police accountability 

April 27, 2022 9:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union released a new research report today on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, which delegates federal immigration enforcement authority to local and state law enforcement agencies and which expanded five fold under the Trump administration. The report, License to Abuse, is the first in-depth and comprehensive review of the character and conduct of local 287(g) partners, primarily county sheriffs, both under the Biden administration and previous administrations.

Researchers examined the 142 state and local law enforcement agencies, including sheriff’s offices and departments of corrections, participating in the 287(g) program and highlighted 54 agencies that are among the most egregious in their violations of people’s civil rights and liberties. Key findings presented in the report include:

  • 59 percent of participating sheriffs have records of anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric, contributing to a continued climate of fear for immigrants and their families and undermining the administration’s racial equity, accountability, and anti-discrimination commitments.

  • 55 percent of sheriffs involved in the program have made statements advocating for inhumane immigration and border enforcement policies and promoting the misinformation and false claims on which they are based. In some cases these sheriffs are actively seeking to defy federal authority in order to preserve the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant, anti-human rights legacy.

  • 65 percent of 287(g) participating agencies have records of a pattern of racial profiling and other civil rights violations, including excessive use of force.

  • 77 percent of participating sheriffs, local jail authorities and state department of corrections commi​​ssioners are running detention facilities with serious and extensive records of inhumane conditions, implicating the 287(g) program because when the federal government partners with these jails and prisons it tacitly sanctions these conditions.

“Despite President Biden’s campaign pledge to eliminate 287(g) contracts initiated under the Trump administration, the Biden administration has so far only terminated one 287(g) agreement out of over 140,” said Naureen Shah, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU. “In continuing partnerships with sheriffs who have shameful and persistent records of civil rights violations, particularly against Black and Brown communities, President Biden is sending a message that he sanctions and approves of these abuses. The Biden administration is also undermining its own efforts to repair the harm inflicted by the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda as well as its promise to hold law enforcement accountable for violating the law. The Biden administration should immediately cease working with these agencies, whose conduct is antithetical to the Biden administration’s vision for the country.”

The ACLU recommends the Biden administration end the 287 (g) program entirely. It should begin ending agreements with 54 participating state and local agencies identified by the ACLU as having particularly egregious records of racial profiling and other civil rights violations; records of poor jail or prison conditions and treatment of individuals in its custody; records of anti-immigrant, xenophobic statements; and records of advocating for inhumane immigration and border policies, with implications for whether they will seek to continue indiscriminate arrests and deportations.

The full report is online here.

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