Reason Magazine's Unreasonable Approach Towards 287(g) Agreements
The libertarian magazine Reason has been consistently wrong on immigration since its inception. However, one recent article by assistant editor Fiona Harrigan was especially egregious. The article pushes the thoroughly debunked myth that 287(g) agreements are costly to taxpayers and do nothing to neutralize crime. The reality, however, is that such agreements contribute to keeping our communities safe by helping remove dangerous illegal aliens – rather than foolishly releasing them back onto the streets like “sanctuary” jurisdictions so often do – and also save taxpayers a significant amount of money.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added section 287(g) to the Immigration and Nationality Act, allowing the director of ICE to establish “partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove noncitizens who are amenable to removal from the United States.”
The libertarian magazine bemoans the fact that Florida’s S.B. 1808, which was recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, requires any law enforcement agency operating a county detention facility to enter into a 287(g) agreement. As Reason points out, more than two-thirds of Florida counties already have 287(g) agreements.
One of Ms. Harrigan’s complaints is the supposed cost. She writes that the “[c]osts may prove not to be minimal, judging by the experiences of other communities.” The burden, she continues, “includes obvious costs like officer pay and housing detainees—but also secondary expenses that communities incur to settle lawsuits related to 287(g) programs” due to accusations of supposed “racial profiling.”
The author’s denials that the 287(g) program and immigration enforcement will actually save Florida taxpayers money by reducing the costs associated with the presence of illegal aliens in the state ring hollow. Employing a trick so often used by the apologists of illegal migration, Harrigan then advertises that the state’s “undocumented immigrant population paid an estimated $588.3 million in state and local taxes in 2018,” relying on data from the pro-mass-immigration American Immigration Council. But throwing out figures of illegal alien tax payments ignores the fact that the fiscal burden of unlawful immigrants is much greater than their tax contributions. Thus, according to FAIR’s 2017 fiscal cost study, approximately 1 million illegal aliens residing in Florida cost state taxpayer’s almost $4.8 billion annually ($6.3 billion if one includes the U.S.-born children of Florida illegal aliens). Since this translates into an average cost of $4,900 per illegal alien per year in the state, any illegal alien removed as a result of 287(g) cooperation lightens the fiscal burden for Floridians while simultaneously upholding the rule of law.
The public safety angle is equally important. In Fiscal Year 2021, ICE pointed out that “the 287(g) Program encountered approximately 394 noncitizens convicted for assault, 646 convicted for dangerous drugs, 74 convicted for sex offenses/assaults, 53 convicted for obstructing police, 91 convicted for weapon offenses, and 21 convicted for homicide” nationwide. In this context, keep in mind that illegal alien criminals often target or prey upon other immigrants, be they legal or illegal. So the program protects the safety of both immigrants and native-born Americans alike.
Thus, the author’s assertion – echoing the narrative of the broader pro-mass-migration lobby – that 287(g) programs “can negatively impact trust of police and community safety” sounds quite farcical. As one FAIR blog points out, this myth is based on extremely faulty research, and is highly assumptive. Moreover, FAIR has previously demonstrated that “as a practical matter, when police are offered information about a crime, they do not inquire about the immigration status of the person volunteering it,” not to mention the plethora of visas illegal aliens become eligible for if they offer helpful information to the authorities.
The bottom line is that 287(g) agreements are sound policy because they actually save taxpayers money, protect the rule of law, and help remove potentially dangerous illegal aliens. As such, fiscal libertarians should most certainly support them.