Dear Secretary Mayorkas,
We write to request an update on the agency's review of the 287(g) program and reiterate our concern that the program be ended without delay. In February 2021 and again in September 2021, more than 50 members of Congress wrote you explaining that the program, which taps state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in deportations, undermines public safety and contributes to civil rights violations. The agency currently has more than 140 agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in deportation efforts around the country, compared to fewer than 35 such agreements at the conclusion of the Obama administration.
In a March 2021 reply to our initial letter, Acting Director of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) Tae Johnson committed to reviewing the 287(g) program. Acting Director Johnson made this same commitment in a reply to our September 2021 letter which also called for an end to the program. However, to date the agency has not announced a process for this review--including seeking input from community members, public safety experts and other stakeholders--nor has it described a timeline for it.
A serious review of the program would show that despite your important efforts to bring humanity and fairness to ICE's interior immigration enforcement practices, the 287(g) program remains dangerous and needs to be dismantled. It is all too easy to imagine a subsequent administration using this program to turbo charge a deportation agenda, conscripting local police to identify and arrest millions of our immigrant loved ones and neighbors.
The Trump administration expanded the 287(g) program five-fold, recruiting blatantly xenophobic, anti-immigrant sheriffs to join it despite their records of civil rights violations; and nearly all of these sheriffs remain in the program. A recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report found that at least 65% of 287(g)-participating agencies have records of civil rights violations, including police beatings and shootings, deaths in local jails, and unconstitutional arrests. Our constituents expect us to condemn local law enforcement's abuses and support police reform-- not reward serial abusers with federal immigration authorities, training and partnership.
It is time to dismantle this program and the administration's partnerships with abusive local law enforcement agencies. We look forward to receiving your update on your agency's review and plans to terminate the dangerous program. Thank you for time and attention to this matter.