Understanding 287(g) Agreements

287(g) agreements (also known as “287(g) contracts” or “287(g) programs”) receive their name from Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Becoming law in 1996, section 287(g) provides that state and local law enforcement departments may voluntarily enter into a formal contract with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) under a joint written agreement. These agreements allow ICE to delegate many of its powers to state and local jurisdictions, making delegated officers indistinguishable from federal immigration authorities.

Under 287(g) agreements, delegated officers are given various powers, including the ability to: 1) inquire into a person’s immigration status; 2) detain persons beyond the time they would be held in local custody; and 3) issue Notice to Appear documents to commence removal proceedings.

How Are 287(g) Agreements Different from Other Types of Enforcement Entanglement?

While there are many ways for state and local law enforcement departments to become entangled with ICE, only 287(g) agreements allow state and local officers to perform tasks that are generally reserved for ICE. In essence, 287(g) agreements allow for total collusion between state and local officers and ICE beyond any other type of entanglement.

Although thanks to advocacy groups the number of 287(g) agreements decreased during the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration has vowed to increase the number of agreements. In fact, since 2017 the number of 287(g) agreements nearly doubled, with many more 287(g) agreements pending review.

Unless we encourage jurisdictions to resist entering into 287(g) agreements, this number will continue to increase.

Why Are 287(g) Agreements Problematic?

287(g) agreements have been plagued with various problems. Because 287(g) agreements allow local officers to act as ICE agents, research shows that local officers operating under 287(g) agreements are prone to engage in racial profiling by stopping persons suspected to be undocumented solely based on the color of their skin. Moreover, ICE provides inadequate training and few financial resources to jurisdictions who enter into 287(g) agreements, which increases the costs that local jurisdictions must pay. These are some of the reasons why the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, numerous courts, and even local jurisdictions, have discredited 287(g) programs.

Overview of Nationwide 287(g) Agreements

The map below represents the 78 total jurisdictions across 20 states that currently have 287(g) agreements. It also shows some of the jurisdictions where successful local campaigns have led to the termination of these programs.

Jurisdictions that are colored red represent the 49 jurisdictions that signed 287(g) agreements during the Trump Administration; yellow represents the 29 jurisdictions that signed 287(g) agreements before the Trump Administration; and green represents some jurisdictions that have ended 287(g) agreements.