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Lawmakers call to defund immigration cooperation program

Suzanne Monyak, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — More than two dozen Democrats called on House appropriation leaders to slash funding for a divisive government program that facilitates collaboration between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration authorities.

Led by Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., the lawmakers warned that continued funding of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, known as the 287(g) program, will undermine trust in law enforcement within immigrant communities, discouraging undocumented immigrants from calling the police for help or reporting crimes.

“A degradation in community trust permits more crime to occur and endangers law enforcement officials,” they wrote in the April 30 letter, first obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The lawmakers called on Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who chairs the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., the panel’s ranking member, to ensure that all funding for the program be “zeroed out” in the fiscal 2022 spending bill.

The lawmakers also pointed to a January government watchdog report, which concluded that while ICE had expanded the program across the country, the Homeland Security agency failed to set performance goals and measure the program’s success.

ICE officials told the Government Accountability Office they “do not track or measure the results of the prior 287(g) program performance measures and evaluate trends over time,” according to the report.

 

House lawmakers wrote that in light of these findings, on top of the “continued degradation in public trust of local law enforcement,” it “would be irresponsible for the federal government to continue funding this program.”

The expansion of the 287(g) program stems from an executive order former President Donald Trump signed in January 2017, aiming to ramp up immigration enforcement within the U.S. and crack down on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, which limit local cooperation with ICE.

In January 2017, ICE had 35 cooperation agreements with localities; by the end of September 2020, it had expanded to 150 such deals, according to the GAO.

Funding for the program, however, remained relatively consistent over the years, hovering below $25 million annually each year since 2015.

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