Law enforcement agencies apply for federal immigration enforcement program despite backlash
A controversial federal program that expands local police immigration enforcement powers has seen renewed interest under the Trump Administration.
In January, President Trump signed an executive order that in part expanded a federal program called 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to use federal records to vet arrested persons that they suspect are in the country illegally, according to The Atlantic and Reuters. Law enforcement also works closely with ICE as part od the program.
Under the Obama Administration, about 32 287(g) agreements were in place, while 60 departments across 18 states now participate in the program, Reuters reports. But reasons for participation in the program differ across departments.
The Dakota County (Neb.) Sheriff’s Department has applied to 287(g), and Sheriff Chris Kleinberg says the reason “has nothing whatsoever to do with Donald Trump,” the Sioux City Journal reports.
"Just in the last couple months, we have had to send a Canadian back through ICE and a German man who was here on a work visa. So it is not geared toward any race or origin or anything like that," Kleinberg told the Journal. "This is just to help us in our jail understand immigration law."
For some departments like the Rensselaer County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Department, 287(g) offers an opportunity for increased funding. "ICE would pay us to house ICE detainees in our facility,” Sheriff Patrick Russo told the Albany Times Union.
Other officials like Bensalem Township (Pa.) Director of Public Safety Fred Harran, simply believe in using all police powers at hand. “If deporting you out of this country when you commit a crime is a tool at my disposal, you are darn right I am going to use it,” he told Reuters.
Not all applying departments have been approved for 287(g). Milwaukee County, Wis., was not approved for the program, while neighboring Waukesha County, Wis., was approved, according to Milwaukee TV station WDJT. Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson said in a news release that the county would only work with ICE in its jails.
Hoever, the program is not without its detractors. Protesters gathered outside the Waukesha County Courthouse after the announcement of Reversion’s application was made, WDJT reports. Rose Godinez, an attorney with the American Civili Liberties Union, has said that wrongfully detained persons could become victims due to the program’s allowances, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
Such protests have affected at least one police department’s action on 287(g). Albany County (N.Y.) Sheriff Craig Apple had applied for 287(g) in October but withdrew his application after community backlash ensued, the Times Union reports. The dissent made the application “more trouble than it’s worth,” Apple said.