On December 21st 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced the end of the 287(g) program. What does this mean for you? First, a review of what the 287(g) program was, and second, what will ICE replace it with? The 287(g) program allowed ICE to ‘deputize’ state or local officers to serve as immigration officers. These deputized officers would receive four weeks of training on how to serve as an immigration officer, the deputized officer would be given permission to interrogate alleged noncitizens, and to put a detainer on a detained noncitizen. While there is a full description of how detainers work and impact noncitizens in a previous post, in general, a detainer is a method by which ICE can keep a noncitizen in detention after they should have already been released. The reason for this ICE dropping the program was because “ICE [had] concluded that other enforcement programs, including Secure Communities, are a more efficient use of resources for focusing on priority cases.” The decision is certainly backed up by facts. It has been found that the 287(g) program has been a costly operation for local governments, in part, stemming from ICE not paying for any of the costs associated with it except for training and enforcement of federal law. Now that 287(g) is no more, the Secure Communities program will take its place. Rather than forge agreements with state and local security agencies to act as ICE officers, ICE and said agencies will instead share information. As local security agencies already share information, such as the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested and booked into custody to the FBI, under the Secure Communities program, the FBI will share that information with ICE. With that information in hand, it will be checked against the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration databases to see if those arrested are unlawfully present. If so, ICE will have the opportunity to take action, with a priority on individuals who pose a threat to the public. As such, it is more important than ever that immigrants charged with crimes retain experienced defense counsel who are sensitive to these developments and who can help fashion plea agreements that avoid incarceration.
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