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Immigration Enforcement Costing Millions of Dollars for Local Governments

Posted on July 21st, 2017 | Author: William C. Menard

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While President Trump has vowed to strongly enforce the southern border and deportation laws in the United States, states and counties have been picking up sizable portions of the costs for doing so.

Under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, federal immigration officials can enter into Memorandums of Agreement, or MOAs, with state and local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws.  However, it is becoming clear that these cooperation agreements involve not only state and local personnel, but also state and local dollars.

According to The Hill, several localities have been set back millions of dollars as a direct result of their engagement with the federal government in a 287(g) agreement.  Alamance County, North Carolina, spent $12 million to build a new jail to accommodate immigration detainees.  Maricopa County, Arizona – whose sheriff, Joe Arpaio, became famous nationwide for his tough stance on immigration – spent $43 million in litigation fees defending itself against wrongful death and abuse claims.  The Houston Chronicle reported that the Harris County, Texas sheriff ended his 287(g) agreement because his department was paying about $675,000 per year to help Immigration and Customs and Enforcement identify people who might be deportable.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, it currently has 287(g) agreements with 58 local agencies in 18 states across the country, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California.  Most, if not all, of these MOAs state that the local government is responsible for the vast majority of expenses, including salaries, overtime, and benefits, as well as the cost of travel, housing, and per diems associated with training for immigration enforcement.

In April, the ACLU of Texas sent a letter to several sheriffs in Texas, asking them not to take part in 287(g) programs, based in large part on the costs.  The ACLU wrote that “taxpayers are often not given complete information about the financial and other drawbacks to 287(g) participation, which is a direct local subsidy of federal immigration-enforcement responsibilities.”  The ACLU further noted these agreements inhibit local law enforcement agencies from doing their job, as many immigrants who wish to report crimes are too scared to interact with the police, noting, as an example, that 70% of undocumented immigrants in Chicago stated they were less likely to report crimes to the authorities.While ICE argues that the program is a success, stating that by “working together, local and federal officers can better identify and remove criminal aliens,” and that these agreements make local governments better “able to better identify individuals in custody,” it has released very little information on the costs associated with 287(g) agreements.

While ICE argues that the program is a success, stating that by “working together, local and federal officers can better identify and remove criminal aliens,” and that these agreements make local governments better “able to better identify individuals in custody,” it has released very little information on the costs associated with 287(g) agreements.

If you have questions about this post or any other immigration topic, please contact me at wcmenard@nmmlaw.com.