A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

You Are Deputized!

Can a local police officer enforce Federal immigration laws?  Yes, if his law enforcement agency has signed a "287(g) agreement" with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). ICE is the immigration enforcement branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes DHS to deputize selected state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.  Under the 287(g) program, ICE and a state or local law enforcement agency sign a Memorandum of Agreement so that Federal authority is delegated to local law enforcement personnel to enforce the immigration laws. 

Recently the Trump Administration has been quite vocal about enlisting local law enforcement agencies, but the 287(g) program has actually been in place for many years.  Nevertheless, participation in the program has not been overwhelming.  According to ICE's website, currently it has 287(g) agreements with 42 law enforcement agencies in 17 states, and ICE has trained and certified more than 1,822 state and local officers to enforce immigration law.  

Most of the agreements were signed by Sheriff Offices and correctional facilities for "jail enforcement."   Under ICE supervision, local correctional officers are trained to identify and process foreign nationals with criminal background for deportation, based on enforcement priorities. 

Texas and North Carolina have shown the most support, each with five 287(g) agreements signed. Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Georgia each has three agreements signed.  As expected, coastal states and metropolitan areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc., have shown the least support for the program.  In fact, most of them are "sanctuary cities" fighting to protect the rights of the undocumented.    

The 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement defines the terms of the program, the scope and extent of the delegation of authority, supervisory structure, the chain of command, etc. Officers who wish to participate in the 287(g) program must be a U.S. citizenship, have completed background investigation, and have experience in current position. Further, they must not have any disciplinary actions pending.  They must also complete all training requirements, which include a four-week basic training program and a one-week refresher training program (completed every two years). 

Opponents of the 287(g) program argue that enforcement of immigration laws by local officers would hinder their ability to perform their primary duties of serving and protecting the community, as residents would be less likely to approach police officers to report crimes and provide information. Many state law enforcement agencies have taken a more balanced approach, reporting only the more serious violators of law to ICE. 

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