Pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government is responsible for passing immigration law and promulgating immigration regulations. However, the federal government is empowered to work with the state and local governments in order to implement and carry out immigration policy.
One of the most prominent (and controversial) joint federal and state government undertakings that involves the execution of immigration law is the 287(g) agreement. The 287(g) agreement, so called because it is explained in that section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, empowers state and local police departments to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on issues of immigration law enforcement. Recently, Los Angeles County voted to end its 287(g) agreement.
According to the ICE website, in order to establish a 287(g) agreement, state and local law enforcement agencies sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ICE. Pursuant to the MOA, ICE will delegate authority to the state or local law enforcement agencies on how they should enforce immigration law within their own jurisdictions. In these instances, the enforcement of immigration law is exclusively related to the arrest and detention of persons who are suspected of violating immigration law.
The Decision of Los Angeles County
Recently, Los Angeles County supervisors decided, in a 3 to 2 vote, to end their county’s 287(g) agreement, which has been in place since 2005. As part of the agreement, ICE had placed 12 trained deputies at the county jail in order to take any undocumented foreign national inmates to ICE detention. The cancellation of the 2005 287(g) agreement now leaves the decision to transfer these inmates to ICE detention solely to the Los Angeles County Sheriff.
Almost 100 county residents came to publicly comment on the Board of Supervisors meeting that discussed this issue. The majority of the residents reported their personal struggles resulting from the 287(g) agreement, most often citing that a loved one had been deported. Also in attendance were many immigrant rights advocacy groups, including a representative from the United Farm Workers of America Union.
Although the measure passed, not everyone in attendance supported the decision to end the agreement. A small number of attendees shared stories of their own loved ones who were killed by undocumented foreign nationals, levying the charge that if the 287(g) had been more strictly enforced, their loved ones would not have died.
Board supervisor Hilda Solis issued an official statement on the matter and explained that the dissolution of the 287(g) agreement will now let the County Sheriff negotiate transfers and ICE detentions with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security on a case-by-case basis. It is hoped that the individualized review of each case will allow the County Jail to work with ICE on priority cases, such as foreign national inmates who have been accused of serious and violent crimes.
Los Angeles County will likely be the first of many counties across the United States to end their 287(g) agreements. More and more states are coming to the mindset that welcoming foreign nationals is good for their economy and their communities in general. Continue to check back with our blog for the most up to date news on 287(g) agreements and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012