Despite some defections, a program to identify and detain criminal aliens is growing across the U.S.
The number of local law-enforcement agencies participating in the 287(g) program has increased from 36 when President Donald Trump took office to 142 today. The population covered by cooperating jurisdictions climbed from 22 million to 31 million.
Named for the section of immigration law that governs it, 287(g) allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to train local law-enforcement officers to begin the deportation process, running fingerprints and doing the legal status and criminal checks to decide whether someone is a deportable migrant.
That bothers some people. Bowing to political pressure from illegal alien advocacy groups, Orange County, Calif., and Harris County (Houston), Texas, ditched their 287(g) agreements.
Earlier this year, Prince William County, Va., ended its 13-year cooperation with ICE. That fruitful collaboration had resulted in the removal of a lot of bad actors, from murderers to sex offenders to drunken drivers.
Acting ICE chief Matthew Albence told the Washington Times that some criminal illegal aliens are now being released in Prince William before ICE can detain them. Others are never fingerprinted, so ICE may not even get the chance.
Noting that his agency doesn’t have the personnel to monitor the comings and goings at the county’s jail 24 hours a day, Albence predicted that some of the 700 criminal aliens previously flagged each year in Prince William will end up back on the streets, instead of being deported.
Still, Albence can point to successes elsewhere. Adding a Warrant Service Officer (WSO) component to 287(g), ICE is authorizing more local police to make arrests on behalf of the agency. Some 65 counties, chiefly in Florida, have signed up for this program.
In a notable case last month, Collier County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office detained an illegal alien from Mexico on an outstanding warrant for lewd and lascivious molestation and placed an immigration hold on him. The subject had two pending charges of sex crimes with a minor.
In March, Rockingham County, N.C., became the first jurisdiction in the Tar Heel State to join the WSO program.
According to ICE national statistics for fiscal 2019, the 287(g) program was credited with detaining 775 aliens convicted for assault, 704 for dangerous drugs, 173 for obstructing police, 145 for sex offenses, 110 for weapon violations and 21 for homicide.
This is a small tip of a very large iceberg. With 17,000 local jurisdictions across the country, ICE’s 6,000 deportation officers need the “force multipliers” that 287(g) can provide.
“Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, it’s common sense: If you can get a criminal off the street, why wouldn’t you do that?” Albence asked.