The ICE 287(g) Program: A Law Enforcement Partnership

Moses Apsan

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Immigration Attorney

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws as part of its homeland security mission. ICE works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement partners in this mission.

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), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.

287(g) Reform: Updated Facts

In 2009, ICE fundamentally reformed the 287(g) delegated authority program, strengthening public safety and ensuring consistency in immigration enforcement across the country by prioritizing the arrest and detention of criminal aliens.

ICE ACCESS: A Partnership Approach

The 287(g) program is one component of the ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) program, which provides local law enforcement agencies an opportunity to team with ICE to combat specific challenges in their communities.

The 287(g) program is only one component under the ICE ACCESS umbrella of services and programs offered for assistance to local law enforcement officers.

ICE developed the ACCESS program in response to the widespread interest from local law enforcement agencies who have requested ICE assistance through the 287(g) program, which trains local officers to enforce immigration law as authorized through section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Terrorism and criminal activity are most effectively combated through a multi-agency/multi-authority approach that encompasses federal, state and local resources, skills and expertise. State and local law enforcement play a critical role in protecting our homeland because they are often the first responders on the scene when there is an incident or attack against the United States. During the course of daily duties, they will often encounter foreign-born criminals and immigration violators who pose a threat to national security or public safety.

History of 287(g)

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added Section 287(g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This authorizes the secretary of DHS to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of ICE officers.

The cross-designation between ICE and state and local patrol officers, detectives, investigators and correctional officers allows these local and state officers necessary resources and latitude to pursue investigations relating to violent crimes, human smuggling, gang/organized crime activity, sexual-related offenses, narcotics smuggling and money laundering. In addition, participating entities are eligible for increased resources and support in more remote geographical locations.

Memorandum of Agreement

The MOA defines the scope and limitations of the authority to be designated. It also establishes the supervisory structure for the officers working under the cross-designation and prescribes the agreed upon complaint process governing officer conduct during the life of the MOA. Under the statute, ICE will supervise all cross-designated officers when they exercise their immigration authorities. The agreement must be signed by the ICE Assistant Secretary, and the governor, a senior political entity, or the head of the local agency before trained local officers are authorized to enforce immigration law.

Officer Selection Requirements

Participating officers in the 287(g) program must meet the following requirements:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Current background investigation completed
  • Minimum two years experience in current position
  • No disciplinary actions pending

Training Requirements

ICE offers a 4-week training program now held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) ICE Academy (ICEA) in Charleston, SC, conducted by certified instructors.

287(g) Results and Participating Entities

Currently ICE has 287(g) agreements with 71 law enforcement agencies in 25 states. Since January 2006, the 287(g) program is credited with identifying more than 185,000 potentially removable aliens -- mostly at local jails. ICE has trained and certified more than 1,213 state and local officers to enforce immigration law.

Additional Resources

More about 287(g) Program

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