A Program in Flux: New Priorities and Implementation Challenges for 287(g)
State and local enforcement of federal immigration laws has generated considerable controversy in public policy circles. The 287(g) program, so named because of Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, authorizes state, county, and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to enforce federal immigration law. The program aims to expand the federal government’s enforcement capacities while enabling LEAs to respond directly to popular concerns about illegal immigration. However, according to critics – including the U.S. Government Accountability Office – certain policing practices associated with the program have serious flaws, including a lack of proper federal oversight, inadequate data collection, and failure to articulate clear priorities. Other criticisms of the program include the belief that it has undermined community trust in law enforcement, led to arrests based on minor infractions, and given rise to racial profiling.
The Obama administration has decided to reform the program through a new standardized memorandum of agreement, which emphasizes the identification, detention, and removal of immigrants who have been convicted of serious offenses, who pose a threat to public safety, or who have been ordered removed. This report provides an analytical framework for determining whether the 287(g) program is worth maintaining, and offers recommendations on how federal and local officials can shape the program to promote efficiency, accountability, and basic human rights, and to assist community leaders in monitoring the program.
II. The History and Context of 287(g)
A. The Evolution of Enforcement Priorities
B. Public Critiques and Analyses of 287(g)
C. 287(g) in the Larger Enforcement Context
III. The Terms of the 2009 Template and Questions Related to its Implementation
A. Enforcement Priorities and Objectives
B. Scope of Authority
C. Personnel and Training
D. Federal Supervision
E. Data Collection and Reporting Requirements
F. Mechanisms of Accountability