WASHINGTON, DC, May 6, 2021 – Today, Homeland Security Committee Vice Chair Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) made public a letter to the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee to eliminate funding for Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s controversial 287(g) program. The program facilitates collaboration between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration authorities, which undermines trust in law enforcement within immigrant communities, discouraging undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes in fear of questions concerning immigration status. The letter was signed by more than two dozen House Democrats.
A recent Government Accountability Office report found that the 287(g) program has expanded by 425% since 2017. The growth is concerning as the report states ICE conducts little oversight of the program. Statistics show that the 287(g) program degrades community trust in local law enforcement: 44 percent of Latinos are hesitant to report crime to police in fear of the police asking about the immigration status of a member of their family or community, and 70 percent of undocumented individuals are also less likely to call the police out of fear.
“A degradation in community trust permits more crime to occur and endangers law enforcement officials,” lawmakers wrote in the letter. “It is critical for our nation to have humane immigration laws and systems that seek to build trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, compared to a system of distrust and fear.”
ICE officials have stated that they do not track or measure the performance of the 287(g) program over time. Therefore, ICE is unaware of the effectiveness of the program because of its lack of measurement tracking.
“With the lack of oversight, no clearly defined strategy for the 287(g) program, and a continued degradation in public trust of local law enforcement, it would be irresponsible for the federal government to continue funding this program,” lawmakers wrote.
“I am proud to have led the effort to urge my colleagues on the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee to eliminate funding for the 287(g) program. If this program remains we will continue to see degradation in trust between communities of color and police,” said Rep. Torres. “I hope my colleagues on the committee understand the damage this program has caused and take immediate action to zero out its funding.”
See letter here.