Texas Congressman Aims to Strengthen Cooperation Between ICE and Local Law Enforcement
FAIR Take | October 2022
Congress created the 287(g) program in 1996 to facilitate cooperation between state/local law enforcement and ICE. Under the program, a state or “political subdivision” can enter a written agreement with the Attorney General to enable its agents to carry out the “investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States.” Not surprisingly, it has been a frequent target of open-borders activists, including high-ranking officials in the Biden Administration. Consider that 2021 – the first year of Biden’s administration – saw a 54% drop in 287(g) agencies flagging assault, sexual offenses, and homicide. Congressman Michael Cloud (R-Texas) understands they will stop at nothing to gut immigration enforcement, and recently took bold action to safeguard this vital program by introducing H.R. 9128, the 287(g) Program Protection Act.
Upon introduction, Congressman Cloud stated, “Empowering state and local law enforcement to work with ICE to detain and deport criminal illegal immigrants is common sense. The Biden administration‘s carelessness about enforcing our immigration laws continues to benefit criminals while harming law-abiding Americans.” The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to approve 287(g) applications within 3 months absent a “compelling reason,” give at least 6 months’ advance public notice before terminating an existing agreement, and impose stringent recruitment and reporting requirements. It also would give agencies legal recourse to challenge a denial or termination. These measures would insulate the program from ideological pressure, which appears to have already played a role in at least one termination under Biden.
In May 2021, ICE terminated its 287(g) agreement with Sheriff Thomas Hodgson of Bristol County, Mass. The termination was fueled by a December 2020 report by far-left state attorney general Maura Healey alleging violations of the civil rights of immigrant detainees. Ms. Healey, now running to be the first lesbian governor, has a history of taking the lead on anti-Trump initiatives. Within weeks of his election, she told a crowd, “We may do it through litigation. We may do it through our own rule-making. We may do it through enforcement of our own.” Despite her 2020 report on Hodgson, no charges were filed. But it was all the pretext Biden’s ICE needed to abruptly end its 287(g) agreement with the county. With Congressman Cloud’s bill, Congress would have several months to exercise its proper oversight authority in investigating any such termination before it takes effect.
RJ Hauman, Director of Government Relations and Communications for FAIR, weighed in: “A key part of the Biden Administration’s open borders agenda is functionally abolishing ICE by gutting resources, funding, and effective programs. One of those programs is 287(g). The commonsense measures in Congressman Cloud’s bill will make ICE think twice before pursuing more ideologically driven 287(g) terminations.” Of course, Biden is unlikely to sign into law a bill that strengthens a program he wishes would go away. Nevertheless, the bill sends a signal that powerful voices in Congress are paying sharp attention to the willful abuse of power playing out at ICE and should be an integral part of any immigration-related legislation in a Republican-led Congress.