The fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person, regardless of immigration status; that's why we have spent the last four years in partnership with local partner Unity in Action, urging an end to Dakota County's 287(g) agreement with the Department of Homeland Security.
287(g) agreements give local law enforcement agencies the authority to enforce federal immigration law outside of their expertise. They have been shown to increase racial profiling, harm community trust, and decrease public safety. (Washington Post, Feb. 2021: "When local police cooperate with ICE, Latino communities under-report crime.") In some communities, cost of enforcement has even ranged in the millions of dollars.
President Biden has promised to end these agreements across the nation, and he must make good on that promise, but Nebraskans can't and don't have to wait for him. Dakota County stands alone as the only sheriff department in the state and neighboring communities that is still taking on immigration enforcement. Sheriff Chris Kleinberg has the power to finally listen to the community and stop this 287(g) program.
287(g) Program in Dakota County Timeline
- January 2021: President Biden takes office. ACLU and community partners continue to educate and advocate for the end of 287(g) in Dakota County.
- 2020 Presidential Campaign: Then-candidate Biden commits to end all 287(g) agreements entered into by the Trump administration, which would include Dakota County's agreement.
- April 2020: Dakota County Sheriff Kleinberg signs an updated agreement, renewing the program once again.
- June 2019: Dakota County Sheriff Kleinberg renews the 287(g) immigration enforcement program for a second year despite community opposition.
- May 2018: Dakota County Sheriff’s selected officers attend a one-month training in immigration law in Charleston, South Carolina and begin enforcement of 287(g).
- February 2018: The Winnebago Tribe announces opposition to Dakota County’s effort to join an immigration enforcement program. See letter here.
- January 2018: Dakota County Sheriff signs Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with DHS and Dakota County becomes a 287(g) jurisdiction. View the agreement online.
- December 2017: Dozens of Dakota County businesses ask the Sheriff not to deputize jailers to enforce immigration law. See news story here.
- November 2017: Dakota County Sheriff Kleinberg’s 287(g) application is recommended for approval by DHS, disregarding ACLU’s letter detailing our concerns.
- November 2017: Dakota County Sheriff Kleinberg meets with Unity in Action, ACLU of Nebraska, Immigrant Legal Center, and community leaders regarding their well-founded concern about the program’s impact on the community.
- August 2017: Dakota County Sheriff Kleinberg applies for 287(g) authorization.
Negative effects of 287(g):
287(g) programs can negatively impact whether community members are treated equally and fairly, regardless of their race, national origin or immigration status, raising equal protection concerns. In 2011, DHS terminated the Maricopa County, Arizona 287(g) agreement after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found a “pattern or practice of wide-ranging discrimination against Latinos.”
Public Safety Risks
This program destroys the community’s trust in our law enforcement agencies and hinders community policing. Studies have shown that immigrants and their family members will hesitate to contact the police due to fear of deportation when these programs are in effect in a jurisdiction. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association have opposed the 287(g) program, IACP stating “[l]ocal police agencies depend on the cooperation of immigrants, legal and [otherwise], in solving all sorts of crimes and in the maintenance of public order. Without assurances that they will not be subject to an immigration investigation and possible deportation, many immigrants with critical information would not come forward, even when heinous crimes are committed against them or their families.”
The Dakota County Sheriff indicated he applied for 287(g) authorization to target “criminal illegal aliens” as stated in his application; however, the 287(g) program’s national track record has clearly shown immigrants with a minimal or no criminal record are being detained. In 2011, the Migration Policy Institute reported that approximately half of the detainers issued via the 287(g) program were for misdemeanors and traffic offenses.
Volunteering to perform the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration law can impose significant additional costs. The individuals serving as ICE officers pursuant to a 287(g) agreement may or may not have time to perform other duties. As the MOA makes clear, Dakota County is “responsible for personnel expenses, including but not limited to, salaries, and benefits, including overtime, local transportation, and official issue material.” In addition, the MOA states that Dakota County covers “travel, housing, and per diem affiliated with the training required for participation” in the 287(g) program. Beyond personnel costs, the MOA makes clear that Dakota County is responsible for the costs of upgrading computer cabling and power to accommodate ICE installed software and hardware, the costs of phone and internet service, and the costs of administrative and office supplies and security equipment. Other county jails around the country have opted to terminate their 287(g) MOA due to incurred costs.
For the above-mentioned reasons, we ask you to take action by contacting the local Dakota County Sheriff and/or Dakota County Commissioners. Follow the links below for their contact information.
I am writing you to ask you to take urgent action and end Dakota County’s harmful 287(g) agreement. Since 2017, the ACLU of Nebraska and the Dakota County community, Dakota County Latin(x) leaders, the Winnebago tribe, dozens of local businesses, and thousands of Nebraskans have voiced their concerns over public safety, racial profiling and taxpayer costs to the Sheriff and Board of Commissioners. Years later and this program, the only one in the state, still stands regardless of the ongoing community harm.
If people don’t feel safe seeking police protection when they are endangered, serving as witnesses or reporting a crime, and can’t access lifesaving care without fear, what becomes of our community?
President Biden has promised to end these agreements across the country, and we urge you to not be the last sheriff department to put your community's concerns first and end this 287(g) agreement.
If you feel you were treated inappropriately because of your race, national origin, or immigration status, contact the ACLU here: https://www.aclunebraska.org/en/get-help