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Quigley, Schakowsky, Escobar Call for End to Deputization of Local Police as Immigration Enforcement

Sep 24, 2021
Press Release

On September 21, 2021, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Veronica Escobar (TX-16) led more than 50 members of Congress in sending a letter calling for the Biden administration to end local law enforcement entanglement with immigration enforcement. They called for the review and termination of 287(g) agreements, which were dramatically expanded under former President Trump. The 287(g) program allows the Department of Homeland Security to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies for the purposes of enforcing federal immigration law.

Earlier this year, members sent an initial letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas calling for the end of the 287(g) program. In their letter today, members criticized the administration for their lack of action on this matter thus far, despite President Biden’s campaign promise to terminate all 287(g) agreements.

 The members wrote, “Eight months into this administration we are concerned with the lack of action in reviewing and terminating 287(g) agreements, the Secure Communities program, and the widespread use of detainers. These programs and practices turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation, co-opt local resources into questionable, racially discriminatory purposes, and strip communities of safety and public trust.”

 Since 2017, Quigley has championed the PROTECT Immigration Act, which would rescind the statutory authority for the federal government's 287(g) program, and most recently re-introduced the legislation in April of this year.

The full text of the letter is available below and a copy of the pdf is available HERE.

 Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

We write to express our concern with the lack of apparent meaningful review by the administration of 287(g) agreements, the Secure Communities program, and immigration detainer practice and the lack of progress toward disentangling local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement.  

In February, 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged you to terminate DHS programs that entangle state and local law enforcement agencies in U.S. civil immigration enforcement. Over six months later, we are not aware of any significant steps taken by the agency to terminate or even meaningfully review these entanglement programs, despite commitments made by President Biden, our request for action, and similar requests from local sheriffs nationwide. We respectfully request a written response detailing the steps that DHS is taking on this matter.

We are deeply concerned with the lack of action in reviewing and terminating these programs, particularly in light of the Texas governor’s recent politically motivated and discriminatory actions against immigrants. Specifically, under Texas Governor Abbott’s orders, local law enforcement agents have arrested hundreds of immigrants at the border based on newly legislated state criminal charges and are collaborating with ICE to issue and enforce detainers transferring these individuals into ICE custody. In other words, Governor Abbott is co-opting the agency’s continued use of detainers to fulfill his political and ideological anti-immigrant goals.  

This growing crisis for immigrants in Texas offers a glaring example of how entanglement between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities is used as a weapon against immigrant communities. Governor Abbott’s aggressive state prison-to-deportation pipeline relies on ICE’s use of detainers. As we explained in our February letter, many courts nationwide have found that when local law enforcement agents hold individuals beyond their release dates from criminal custody in order to fulfill detainers issued by ICE, they are in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We urge you to review the legality of and harms caused by detainer practices going forward, particularly in states like Texas where collaboration with local agencies politicizes the enforcement of U.S. civil immigration laws.

While we were pleased to see your announcement regarding the agency’s termination of the 287(g) agreement with Bristol County earlier this year, we remain concerned that thus far the administration has taken steps only regarding this single agreement. President Biden himself during the 2020 campaign promised to terminate all 287(g) agreements entered into by former President Trump. However, the agency still maintains 287(g) agreements with 145 law enforcement agencies across 31 states--the majority of which were signed under the Trump administration. These can be terminated at any time under your leadership.

Eight months into this administration we are concerned with the lack of action in reviewing and terminating 287(g) agreements, the Secure Communities program, and the widespread use of detainers. These programs and practices turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation, co-opt local resources into questionable, racially discriminatory purposes, and strip communities of safety and public trust. The ongoing crisis in Texas underscores the vulnerability of these programs to the political and discriminatory whims of state and local politicians at the expense of immigrants.

In light of the inaction over the past eight months regarding these programs and practices, we respectfully request a written response. Thank you for your attention to this matter.