Migration Policy Institute
Delegation and Divergence: 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement
Randy Capps, MPI Demographer and Senior Policy Analyst
Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials
Captain LeRoy Kirkegard, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Muzaffar Chishti, Director of MPI's Office at NYU School of Law
Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act permits the federal government to delegate certain immigration enforcement powers to state and local jurisdictions. 287(g) programs have surged into the public consciousness in recent years. Operating in 72 jurisdictions in 2011, the 287(g) program authorizes state and local law enforcement officers to screen people for immigration status, issue detainers to hold unauthorized immigrants on immigration violations, and begin the process of their removal from the United States.
While the program is supervised by federal immigration officials, states and localities have applied their 287(g) authority in widely divergent ways, in some cases provoking substantial community controversy. With the federal government expanding the Secure Communities program, another state-local partnership, to almost 900 jurisdictions, the Obama administration confronts an important choice -- whether to use these programs in a targeted fashion, primarily pursuing those who have committed a serious crime, or as tools to pursue the removal of large numbers of unauthorized immigrants in general.
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report, Delegation and Divergence: A Study of 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement, addresses the 287(g) program’s goals, implementation, outcomes, costs, and community impacts, as well as provides recommendations for its reform. The report is based on a review of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data on the criminal offenses for which unauthorized immigrants have been detained through 287(g) and in-depth interviews with a range of respondents in seven 287(g) jurisdictions visited by the study’s authors.