Despite growing anti-ICE sentiment and some high-profile defections, the Trump administration has managed to expand the number of jurisdictions that have agreed to cooperate with the Homeland Security Department to spot illegal aliens with criminal records who should be deported.

The number of participants in what’s known as the 287(g) program, which allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to train and cooperate with local authorities to report illegal aliens who have already been booked in local correctional facilities, has shot from 36 on Inauguration Day to 142 now. All told, the population covered by cooperating cities and counties has surged from about 22 million to 31 million.

However, some defections have happened since President Trump's inauguration some as recently as this Tuesday. For example, Prince William County ended its 13 years of cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Matthew T. Albence, acting chief of ICE, said the agency doesn’t have the personnel to search the county’s jails 24 hours a day — something the deputies were able to do under the cooperation agreement. Now, some of the 700 people flagged each year in Prince William will end up back on the streets rather than ousted from the country. Albence continued:

Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, it’s common sense: If you can get a criminal off the street, why wouldn’t you do that? We’ve lost some partners because of politics, and individuals chose to make decisions that were politically based, not based on public safety or based on facts.

Under the 287(g) jail model, local officers act as force multipliers, able to check new arrivals and begin deportation proceedings even without ICE on site. Prince William County, for example, had 11 active deputies and, over the past 3½ years, flagged more than 2,500 people booked into the regional jail. ICE said they included 65 homicide cases, 277 sexual assault cases and 1,612 DWI arrests or convictions.

Without 287(g), ICE will still get records of everyone in Prince William’s jail whose fingerprints are run against federal databases and can still respond to try to pick up targets. But Mr. Albence said they will miss some migrants who get released before ICE can flag them. Others are never fingerprinted, so ICE may not even get the chance.

Big jurisdictions such as Orange County in California, Harris County in Texas, and Wake and Mecklenburg counties in North Carolina have all ditched 287(g) agreements since 2017. Orange and Harris alone (suburban Los Angeles and Houston, respectively) were responsible for thousands of deportation leads a year. But ICE has added far more jurisdictions than it has lost, including more than a dozen in Texas.

Across the Potomac River from Prince William, Sheriff Jeff Gahler in Harford County, Maryland, just renewed his 287(g) agreement last week.Kyle Andersen, a spokesman for the sheriff, said it helps cleanse their streets of gang members and violent criminals, leading to a record-low crime rate.

For the full story, please visit the Washington Times.

Updated: Wed, Jul 15th 2020 @ 11:45am EDT