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.
The ACLU of NE with our local Dakota County community partner, Unity in Action, are leading civil rights and law enforcement groups to oppose 287(g) agreements between local sheriff departments and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These agreements give the local sheriff the authority to enforce federal immigration law outside of their expertise. Specifically, the sheriff’s officers will be able to commence immigration investigations or choose to begin deportation proceedings for individuals they detain—regardless of the charge.
The 287(g) program was made into law back in 1996 through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Now, the Trump administration seeks its expansion, eventhough it brings with it a host of potential problems, including racial profiling, higher taxes, and an increase in public safety risks.
Beyond the program’s target community—immigrants, this program negatively impacts families. A report analyzing the 40 jurisdictions with 287(g) agreements found that more than 1.5 million individuals live in mixed-status families. Moreover, immigrant households contribute $65.9 billion in spending power and $24.4 billion in tax revenue annually. Yet disappointingly, the Dakota County Sheriff has decided to fuel the Trump administration’s war on immigrant communities and joined the ill-informed 287(g) program. There are no other communities in Nebraska or neighboring states that participate in the 287(g) program. There are about 59 signed agreements across the country but in recent years, localities have left the program, citing expenses and its hindrance on community policing.
287(g) Program in Dakota County Timeline
- August 20, 2017- Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg applied to the DHS for 287(g) authorization.
- November 14, 2017- Dakota County Sheriff met 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.
- November 14, 2017- Dakota County Sheriff’s 287(g) application was recommended for approval by DHS, disregarding ACLU’s letter detailing our concerns.
- December 13, 2017- Dozens of Dakota County businesses ask the Sheriff not to deputize jailers to enforce immigration law. See news story here.
- January 16, 2018- Dakota County Sheriff signs Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with DHS and Dakota County becomes a 287(g) jurisdiction. View the agreement online.
- February 26, 2018- The Winnebago Tribe announces opposition to Dakota County’s effort to join an immigration enforcement program. See letter here.
- April 5, 2018- North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters announces opposition to the 287(g) program. See letter here.
- April 9, 2018- ACLU of NE and Unity in Action launch Community Empowerment Campaign to educate Dakota County residents about the 287(g) program.
- May 2018- Dakota County Sheriff’s selected officers attended a one-month training in immigration law in Charleston, South Carolina and begin enforcement of 287(g).
- June 2019- ACLU of NE and Unity in Action continue to educate Dakota County residents about the 287(g) program.
- June 30, 2019- Deadline for Dakota County Sheriff to renew the 287(g) immigration enforcement program for a second year.
Negative effects of 287(g):
Volunteering to perform the federal government’s job of enforcing civil immigration law will impose significant additional costs that must be borne by local Dakota County taxpayers and will not be reimbursed by the federal government. The individuals serving as ICE officers pursuant to a 287(g) agreement may or may not have time to perform other duties. If they do not, there is cost in lost productivity and public safety of having people on staff unavailable to do local functions because they are working for ICE. Moreover, as the MOA makes clear, the County will be “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 the County will be responsible to cover “the costs of all [personnel’s] 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 the 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. It also specifies that the County will provide free space to ICE supervisory employees—something difficult to provide in Dakota County when it is already “tight and offices are already a little crowded.”
Moreover, other County Jails around the country have opted to terminate their 287(g) MOA a year into the program due to the incurred cost burdening taxpayers and the jail—in Harris County, Texas (Houston), the sheriff terminated his agreement due to a $675,000 cost to the jail; multiple North Carolina counties terminated their agreements after noticing a significant cost of $4-5 million incurred after their first year into the MOA. Finally, Prince William County, Virginia opted to keep the program but had to increase taxes and cut important items from their budget to cover the cost of the program. All of the aforementioned counties are more than double the population of Dakota County and necessarily carry a larger budget, yet, have recognized that the program is not sustainable and the cost incurred outweighed any benefit from the program. (See below for a chart comparing Dakota County’s budget and size with that of the counties that have chosen to terminate their 287(g) MOA due to cost.
|County||Annual Budget for last fiscal year ($)||Cost of 287(g) Program (1-year)||Population||Size Difference with Dakota County|
|Dakota County, NE||$228,286||Unknown||20,465|
|Alamance County, NC (Spallest pop.)||$11,108,759||$4,800,000||159,688||Nearly 80% larger population; 5000% larger budget|
|Harris County, TX||$637,134,000||$675,000||4,589,928|
Additionally, this program will have a potential impact on whether community members will be 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.” Additionally, a lawsuit was filed against Sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling. Patterns of racial profiling may expose Dakota County to a costly legal battle at the County’s expense; lawsuits alone could add millions of dollars to the cost set out above.
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. In fact, 44% of Latinos stated they were less likely to contact the police if they were a victim of a crime due to fear that law enforcement would ask about their or their family member’s immigration status. The same survey found that 38% of Latinos suspect local law enforcement is now more than ever working with DHS. Lastly, 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 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. Signifying that deportation proceedings could begin for individuals who are only charged (not convicted) of committing a misdemeanor traffic offense, such as speeding, driving without a license, broken taillight, etc. This program not only destroys community trust in law enforcement but also targets individuals who have not committed a serious criminal offense.
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.
Sample message: As a Nebraskan I am writing today to ask you to end the 287g agreement entered into by the Dakota County Sheriff and the Department of Homeland Security. I am concerned this misguided effort will increase taxpayer burdens, cause racial profiling, and strain community relations which burden our shared public safety goals.
Report Racial Profiling
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
Recent News About 287(g)
Unity in Action: https://www.unitedinactionne.org/