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Report: Local Law Groups that Work with ICE Lack Oversight

The Center for American Progress reports that people who are concerned about deportations have difficulty connecting with local law enforcement to voice opinions. (ICE/Flickr)
The Center for American Progress reports that people who are concerned about deportations have difficulty connecting with local law enforcement to voice opinions. (ICE/Flickr)
October 11, 2018

PHOENIX – Dozens of local law enforcement agencies in Nevada and the rest of the United States have partnerships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but a new report shows these programs often lack public oversight.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Mesa Police Department and Pinal County and Yavapai County sheriff's offices are just a few agencies around the country to have established so-called 287(g) programs, allowing ICE to delegate immigration enforcement powers to them.

Claudia Flores, immigration campaign manager for the Center for American Progress, says these kinds of arrangements have been around for years, but the number of local agencies participating has more than doubled under the Trump administration.

"Once they have that agreement, then localities work with ICE on training their officers so that they can carry out deportation duties, any sort of federal immigration enforcement," Flores says. "There are different models for the program."

All these local programs to assist with ICE detentions or deportations are supposed to include public meetings and local oversight committees, but Flores and her colleagues called every participating local force and found that wasn't the case.

The report shows that of 78 programs, only 17 had held the required meetings. The Mesa Police and Yavapai County Sheriffs did, but Arizona's other programs did not.

In the few meetings around the United States that were held, Flores says public records weren't always kept.

She says for community members, she says, this lack of opportunity to participate or review information makes it nearly impossible to voice concerns.

"If your local resources are going into this program, why isn't it that local leaders are able to really weigh in?” she questions. “So, that is why we have been calling this issue of transparency and hoping that Congress pays attention before they can continue giving more funds to this program."

The Department of Homeland Security does accept complaints about 287(g) programs via email, phone and mail, but the Center for American Progress report called on local law enforcement groups to comply with the requirements and establish easily accessible, local public meetings.

The report is online at americanprogress.org, and information on ICE 287(g) programs is at ice.gov/287g.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - AZ