By Leslie Bernstein Rojas
A Homeland Security budget proposal released yesterday recommends what seems to be a gradual phase-out of a program known as 287(g), a voluntary federal-local immigration enforcement partnership that preceded the more controversial, but less costly (and mandatory) Secure Communities fingerprint-sharing program. The proposed budget recommends cutting $17 million from 287(g), discontinuing it in some jurisdictions, and suspending consideration of new requests from agencies wishing to participate.
What is 287(g)? The federal program derives its odd name from a 1996 amendment to the immigration law that authorized it. From the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website:
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added Section 287(g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This authorizes the secretary of DHS to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of ICE officers.
How it works: Agencies that participate in 287(g) have received federally-funded training from ICE, with officers participating in a four-week training program. ICE in turn authorizes the agencies to identify and detain deportable immigrants encountered by officers in “the course of daily duties,” according to an ICE fact sheet. Each agency enters into a contract with ICE, known as a memorandum of agreement, defining the scope of each particular partnership.Agencies are able to request training specific to any area of immigration law enforcement, but as used in Los Angeles County (along with Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties), most agencies use it to identify deportable immigrants who land in local jails and state prisons. In jails, the screening is generally done post-conviction, versus on the receiving end, as occurs with Secure Communities.