287(g) – what’s it all about?

We’ve been hearing a lot about “287(g) programs” in the news. So for today’s post…what are they exactly and how do they affect Valley residents?

In short, 287(g) programs grant participating local enforcement agencies the authority to enforce federal immigration policy. Currently, there are over 66 local law enforcement agencies that partner with I.C.E. to deputize officers who can enforce immigration laws. This can often lead to scenarios such as local police pulling people over on the road and asking for immigration status in addition to their license and registration. Who’s targeted by this program? A nonpartisan group, Justice Strategies, has found that these programs have intensified racial profiling as most of the stops, searches and seizures mainly target communities of color, specifically Latinos.

As one might guess, the 287(g) programs cause communities of color to mistrust local law enforcement if they are known to cooperate with I.C.E. agents. What might this fear look like? Residents and victims might be uneasy about calling police regarding crime, domestic violence or other incidents that they think would bring up questions around immigration status. It is not surprising then to see how this law has obstructed the ability of local cops to carry out their fundamental duty: to serve and protect residents. Worst of all, there is no accountability on the part of participating programs and no DHS oversight to deter abuse by authorities.

Specifically in the Valley, police authorities have been thinking heavily about these 287(g) programs with regards to their local operations. According to a recent Monitor article, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio does not plan to participate in 287(g) programs while Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño is “considering” engaging with the detention side of the program, but remarks how he “would never do the enforcement.” While that is comforting to hear, we must stay wary of the fact that racial profiling still continues in the Valley as Latino residents are routinely asked for immigration status during traffic stops.

In some recent good news, Valley political leaders have come out against 287(g) tactics. U.S. Rep. Hinojosa and State Rep. Gonzales stated at the immigration reform rally on Saturday that the “use of local police departments to enforce immigration laws is deeply affecting the immigrants community.” Rep. Hinojosa went on to say:

“City or county police officers doing the job of U.S. Border Patrol are pressed by a small proportion of Americans who want 12 million undocumented people to be deported to their countries. It is not rational.”

Outraged over DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano’s expansion of these programs, 521 immigrant rights organizations signed on to and delivered a letter to President Obama to terminate these 287(g) programs that prevent local police from ensuring public safety and ignore the issue at hand: the need for humane, comprehensive immigration reform.

This taping of a rally is about a month old but still a great reminder that the fight against 287(g) is so important!


One response to “287(g) – what’s it all about?

  1. Pingback: LUPE’s impact in 2009 & Happy New Year! « La Unión del Pueblo Entero

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