The ongoing assault on 287(g)

Published on February 25th, 2012

In his persistence to further align himself with illegal immigration advocates, President Obama works to remove one of the most effective tools of immigration enforcement, 287(g).


According to ICE.gov, "The 287(g) program, one of ICE’s top partnership initiatives, allows a state and local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).  The state or local entity receives delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions…The MOA allows state and local patrol officers…the necessary latitude and resources to pursue investigation relating to violent crimes, human smuggling, gang/organized crime activity, sexual-related offences narcotics smuggling and money laundering.  In addition, participating entities are eligible for increased resources and support in more remote geographical locations."  

The reasoning for the cut is, "The Secure Communities program screening process is more consistent, efficient and cost effective in identifying and removing criminal and other priority aliens. To implement this reduction in 2013, ICE will begin by discontinuing the least productive 287(g) task force agreements in those jurisdictions where Secure Communities is already in place and will also suspend consideration of any requests for new 287(g) task forces."  

Secure Communities

"With the Secure Communities program, once the FBI checks the fingerprints, the FBI automatically sends them to DHS, so that ICE can determine if that person is also subject to removal (deportation)…If the person has been previously encountered and fingerprinted by an immigration official and there is a digitized record, then the immigration database will register a “match.” ICE then reviews other databases to determine whether the person is here illegally or is otherwise removable.  If the person is removable, ICE generally issues a detainer on the person, requesting that the state or local jail facility hold the individual up to an extra 48 hours (excluding weekends) to allow for an interview of the person. Following the interview, ICE decides whether to seek the person's removal.  In making these decisions, ICE considers a number of factors, including the person's criminal history, immigration history, family ties, duration of stay in the U.S., significant medical issues, and other circumstances…the person could be allowed lawful re-entry at a later date."

There is no MOA requirement and jurisdictions cannot opt-out of Secure Communities.  


"Currently ICE has 287(g) agreements with 68 law enforcement agencies in 24 states. Since January 2006, the 287(g) program is credited with identifying more than 279,311 potentially removable aliens — mostly at local jails. ICE has trained and certified more than 1,500 state and local officers to enforce immigration law."  According to Activated Jurisdictions, an ICE report on Secure Communities (spanning 2008 to 2012), 119,912 convicted criminal aliens were removed from the US.  Over a 14-month period, 40% of the total criminal aliens removed from the US were in California.

The goal is to remove the "least productive" agreements.  However, ICE does not provide data to define a "least productive 287(g)" agreement. 

Ironically, the 287(g) program over a four-year period was successful in identifying and "potentially" removing 186,207 aliens while only 119,912 criminal aliens were removed using Secure Communities.


For FY 2010, 2011 & 2012, the 287(g) budget held at $68 million.  The removal of $17 million (25% of the budget) from 287(g)'s FY 2013 takes funding levels to pre-FY 2009 levels.  The total allocated to 287(g) was $204 million. Over the same period, Secure Communities received $531 million in funding.

Additionally, resources from 287(g) "will be used to improve civil rights oversite of state and local immigration enforcement under the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs in the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL)."


287(g) requires more effort to undertake; only .02% of the jurisdictions are enrolled in 287(g) while 71% of jurisdictions are enrolled in Secure Communities.  However, 287(g) is 156% more effective than Secure Communities.  Over the same period (2010-2012), 287(g) costs taxpayers 60% less to operate and sustain than Secure Communities. 

287(g) targeted those who remained in the US in violation of the immigration laws; not only "criminal" aliens.  The Secure Communities program implies that it is allowable to stay in the US contrary to the immigration laws as long as the illegal alien does not commit another objectionable crime; in addition, resources will be allocated to ensure the civil rights of illegal aliens are not violated.  

Possibly, the pertinent issue is that the 287(g) program is too effective to be continued by the current administration.

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