The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday May 12 voted to end the 287 (g) program that for ten years has allowed County agents to perform immigration related work in the County Jails.
By terminating the 287(g) program, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in the jails will be closed and the ICE agents permanently housed there will be removed.
Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas co-authored the motion to end the controversial program, which has been widely criticized for resulting in racial profiling, the separation of hundreds of thousands of families and for damaging the trust between law enforcement and communities.
The motion does not preclude the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, which manages the jails, from cooperating with federal immigration authorities in other ways to ensure that the most dangerous criminals are not released into the community, but it does request that any such cooperation be done with maximum transparency and community participation.
The 287 (g) agreement between the County and ICE allowed Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department employees to be deputized as immigration agents and to work alongside federal agents inside the jails in determining if inmates were eligible to be referred to immigration authorities for deportation.
Such cooperation helped to muddy the distinction between the local police agencies and federal immigration enforcement agencies.
“This is a historic vote which will make sure we no longer permanently house immigration agents inside our jails”, Supervisor Solis said after the vote. “With this decision, the Board of Supervisors changed the structure of how the Sheriff can cooperate with ICE. Though the Sheriff must continue to identify individuals who pose a serious threat to public safety, we must put an end to racial profiling, to mass deportation, and to programs that rip families apart.”
Specifically, the motion requests that the Sheriff engage community stakeholders in clarifying the specific policies, practices, and procedures by which his Department will cooperate with ICE’s new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which in November replaced the widely criticized Secure Communities program.
The federal government claims that PEP is intended to restrict deportation only to individuals who pose a high-risk to public safety and that they will work with local governments to tailor the program to the specific needs of that community.
“If Los Angeles is to participate in the PEP program,” says Supervisor Solis, “it must not only adhere to the California TRUST Act, but also be limited only to people who have been convicted of very serious crimes.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell noted that he is committed to working with the Board of Supervisors and others in this process.
“I welcome the opportunity to work with local, state and federal leaders as we develop policies and procedures that appropriately balance both promoting public safety and fortifying trust within the multiethnic communities that make up Los Angeles County”, said Sheriff McDonnell.
Since its inception, the 287 (g) program has only been used in four California Counties: San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange, while most other counties and cities in the state refused to participate.
Last year, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties terminated their agreements.