Since its creation in 1996, the federal 287(g) program has produced ongoing devastating consequences for communities nationwide, including in Texas. But on June 30, twenty-five Texas counties will have the opportunity to end their involvement with the disastrous program when their agreements with the federal government expire.
If you’re unfamiliar with this program, here’s the short version: 287(g) agreements give authority to local policing agencies to engage in federal immigration enforcement activities and formalize collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that deports thousands of immigrants each year.
The ACLU of Texas strongly opposes the renewal of these 287(g) agreements and recently sent letters to the commissioners of the 25 Texas counties in which the program is set to expire urging them to end their participation. We also urge the termination of other counties’ participation in the program, including the 18 Texas counties that have signed and applied “jail agreements” to assist with the federal government’s ongoing attempt to ramp up its immigrant deportation machine.
Here are three reasons why Texas counties should reject 287(g) agreements in their communities:
Participating in the program undermines community trust and safety.When sheriff's deputies engage in immigration enforcement, fewer people report crimes for fear of being deported, thus jeopardizing community safety and trust. In fact, a study of how increased police involvement with immigration enforcement found 70 percent of undocumented immigrants are less likely to contact authorities about a crime they have witnessed or endured for fear of being asked about their immigration status or worse, being taken into custody. By ending 287(g) programs, undocumented immigrants and their loved ones that reside in the community will feel safer from incrimination and will not have to be silent victims.
Prioritizing immigration enforcement neglects fighting violent crime.Community safety also becomes less of a priority when law enforcement uses their time and resources to participate in immigration enforcement rather than combating violent, more urgent crime in their community. Counties already struggle with funding local law enforcement operations; branching out to act as a deportation arm will stretch already limited resources such as jail space.
287(g) agreements drain county finances.Participating in the 287(g) program costs counties a significant sum of money. According to the American Immigration Council’s analysis on 287(g), state and local governments sustain most of the program’s costs. For example, before Harris County terminated their 287(g) agreement, the program consumed $675,000 for its operation, which included housing, travel, and training expenses for law enforcement. In lieu of spending taxpayer money on participating in the program, counties should spend budget dollars on community safety, not on funding a federal responsibility.
If you live in one of the 25 counties whose 287(g) agreement is set to expire on June 30, 2019, click your county's contact information below to tell your county officials you are against local law enforcement resources being used to make Texas communities less safe.
25 Counties in Texas have 287(g) agreements