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Pictured: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifying before the Senate. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.
Rampant allegations of racial profiling and systemic abuse undermined 287(g)'s legitimacy and effectiveness, prompting backlash from several organizations. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

ACLU urges top Biden officials to terminate immigration enforcement agreements with local police

The administration ended one agreement with a local law enforcement agency with recorded xenophobic practices of abuse, violence, and racial profiling.

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In a letter addressed to Alejandro Mayorkas, current Secretary of Homeland Security, the American Civil Liberties Union group urged the official to put an end to 287(g) agreements across all local law enforcement agencies. 

“The ACLU has long urged the government to entirely abandon the 287(g) program,” the letter read. 

Said agreements deputize local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws via a series of memoranda from the federal government. Approved agencies may conduct arrests and detain individuals past their holding date until U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials intervene. 

However, the program has been the subject of controversy with surfacing allegations of practices relating to racial profiling, rather than the appropriate implementation of DHS guidelines. 

The American Immigration Council found that, in several agencies, the program harmed the relationship between communities and the local police force. 

As recent as April of 2022, the ACLU released a report “License to Abuse: How ICE's 287(g) Program Empowers Racist Sheriffs and Civil Rights Violations,” a report that provides a comprehensive review of all 142 of the Biden administration’s 287(g) partners,” revealing problematic practices 67% of agencies. 

The report also highlights inhumane conditions found at many of the detention centers, as well as a record of echoed statements from national political figures. 

Most agreements do not have an expiration date, whereas they continue to run through federal funding, perpetuating continuing anti-immigration traditions. 

Continued litigation has prevented any real effort for immigration reform from being introduced or enforced. 

“With the guidelines in continued limbo, now is a critical time for you to evaluate other significant ways to protect immigrant communities from indiscriminate arrests and deportations,” 

During the 2020 presidential election, Vice President Kamala Harris met with local advocacy groups behind closed doors and pledged an end to 287(g) agreements, a tactic utilized to gain an endorsement. 

"The Biden immigration platform has clear policies for immigration reform, labor protections, access to testing for all people, and real economic relief for workers and their families struggling during this pandemic," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director at Voces De La Frontera, an immigration advocacy group, following the private meeting.

Two short years later, the same group gathered peacefully in front of Mayorkas’ residence, demanding an end to 287(g) agreements, a move the administration had committed to. 

"We are forced to do this because Biden and Mayorkas have not fulfilled their promise to end this racist and xenophobic program,” Neimann-Ortiz said in a statement.

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