Rep. Lamar Smith
Rep. Lamar Smith


Fifty-four Members of Congress signed a letter to Pres. Barack Obama expressing their support for the 287(g) program. The letter comes days after the Obama administration implemented limits on state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the 287(g) program.

According to the letter:

The 287(g) program, whether through jail intake, task force or other operational models, is effective and has been used by jurisdictions across the United States to help reduce crime and illegal immigration. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) own website states ‘[T]he 287(g) program has emerged as one of the agency’s most successful and popular partnership initiatives as more state and local leaders have come to understand how a shared approach to immigration enforcement can benefit their communities.’ It allows law enforcement officials direct access to the information needed, and the authority, to issue detainers and hold an illegal immigrant until ICE is available to transport the individual to a detention facility.

According to ICE statistics, ‘[S]ince January 2006, the 287(g) program is credited with identifying more than 130,000 potentially removable aliens – mostly at local jails. More than 1075 officers have been trained and certified through the program....’ The number of participating jurisdictions, currently at 57, has been as high as 67. Participants include local police departments, county sheriffs’ offices, state departments of corrections and state departments of public safety.

In a release from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) who serves as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Smith said:

The Obama administration should not politicize this highly effective immigration enforcement and public safety program. Thanks to the 287(g) program, thousands of illegal immigrants that are identified in jails and through task force operations are being identified and deported.

Claims that the program was supposed to focus only on ‘serious’ crimes are false. The program was created to let state and local law enforcement officials help enforce all immigration laws, not just a select few. One of the most effective things we can do to prevent illegal immigrant crimes in the first place is to deport illegal immigrants before they’ve committed one, whether they are identified in jails or by law enforcement task forces.

The open borders crowd doesn’t like the 287(g) program because it is working -- thousands of illegal immigrants are being identified and deported. It is so popular that the Department of Homeland Security rejected dozens of applications due to funding shortfalls in the last few years.

Local law enforcement agencies deserve our thanks for helping to remove illegal immigrants from our communities before they threaten American lives and property. The Obama administration should not limit local agencies’ ability to help enforce our nation’s laws.

The full letter can be viewed on the Republican House Judiciary Committee's website.


Updated: Wed, Oct 28th 2009 @ 2:15pm EDT