The cost of abandoning local agreements with ICE will be lives


July 21, 2020

By Dale L. Wilcox

Given that our nation is still reeling from weeks of looting, riots and civil unrest, it seems an odd time to be discussing the adoption of policies that would make American communities decidedly more dangerous. Yet that is exactly what many localities are doing with the latest incarnation of sanctuary policies: the abandonment of 287(g) agreements between local law enforcement and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). The result will be more violent criminals living among us, and the cost that will be paid through lives and bloodshed.

To most Americans, 287(g) sounds like a loophole their accountant discovered to help them avoid paying taxes. It actually refers to a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, our federal immigration law. 287(g) specifically “authorizes the Director of ICE to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, that permit designated officers to perform limited immigration law enforcement functions.”

In layman’s terms, the agreement empowers local police and sheriff’s departments to work with ICE to investigate, apprehend, or detain those in the country illegally who are being held by local authorities for other criminal violations. Many of those whom ICE picks up are charged with felonies, and many have previous convictions for similar crimes.

In more sane times, such a program would be heralded for keeping communities safe for all citizens. In today’s upside-down, through-the-looking-glass world, the anti-borders crowd is boiling with anger and determined to have 287(g) agreements terminated across the country.

It is a sad duty to report that these efforts have been largely successful. Last fall, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal blocked ICE from deputizing local law enforcement to perform certain immigration-related duties. The move effectively ended 287(g) agreements in the Garden State, just as two counties had sought to renew their agreements. Ironically, Grewal cited “public safety” as his rationale for the edict.

More recently, the Prince William County, Va., Jail Board voted on June 17 to let its 287(g) agreement expire. The decision was made under protest by county residents, who cited fears for their community’s safety. Undeterred, the board, which was recently stacked with anti-borders activists, ended a policy that had fought crime in the county since 2007.

How did 287(g) keep Prince William County safe? My organization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) recently conducted an investigation into the program. We obtained county records which showed that since the program’s inception 13 years ago, local law enforcement handed over 9,537 illegal and criminal aliens to ICE. Since 2017 alone, 2,639 inmates were transferred to ICE. More than half had served time for driving under the influence, 65 inmates faced murder charges, and 277 were accused of sexual assault. It is hard to fathom how anyone could believe that keeping these people in their community is a good thing.

With the 287(g) agreement now expired, such inmates could be and often are released back into the local community. Anti-borders advocates cheer the revocation of 287(g) agreements as a victory for “immigrant rights.” Lost in their rhetoric is the reality that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are frequently the victims of violence from those removed under 287(g) transfers.

Illegal aliens evading criminal charges often hide among the immigrant community, and their victims mostly come from that community. Among the alleged perpetrators are members of gangs like MS-13, one of the most violent organized crime outfits in the country with a track record of bloody mayhem. Ending 287(g) agreements may advance the left’s radical agenda, but it is not just cruel to immigrants, it can kill them.

ICE reports that there are currently 74 law enforcement agencies in 21 states that have active 287(g) agreements. Almost all of those communities are under pressure from illegal immigration advocacy groups to end those agreements. Citizens need to educate themselves on the risks of ending those agreements and the danger it poses to their families. Silence and apathy will guarantee that the 287(g) agreement in your community will soon be gone, and much of your community’s safety along with it.

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Also published at: Dale L. Wilcox, The cost of abandoning local agreements with ICE will be lives, The Hill, July 21, 2020.

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