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Janna Farley,

June 8, 2022

The American Civil Liberties Union released a new research report on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, which delegates federal immigration enforcement authority to local and state law enforcement agencies and which expanded fivefold under the Trump administration and continues under the Biden administration.

The report, License to Abuse, is the first in-depth and comprehensive review of the character and conduct of local 287(g) partners, primarily county sheriffs, both under the Biden administration and previous administrations.

Researchers examined the 142 state and local law enforcement agencies, including sheriff’s offices and departments of corrections, participating in the 287(g) program and highlighted 54 agencies that are among the most egregious in their violations of people’s civil rights and liberties. 

Key findings presented in the report include:

  • At least 59% of participating sheriffs have records of anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric, contributing to a continued climate of fear for immigrants and their families and undermining the administration’s racial equity, accountability and anti-discrimination commitments.
  • At least 55% of sheriffs involved in the program have made statements advocating for inhumane immigration and border enforcement policies and promoting the misinformation and false claims on which they are based. In some cases, these sheriffs are actively seeking to defy federal authority in order to preserve the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant, anti-human rights legacy.
  • At least 65% of 287(g) participating agencies have records of a pattern of racial profiling and other civil rights violations, including excessive use of force.
  • At least 77% of participating sheriffs, local jail authorities and state department of corrections’ commi​​ssioners are running detention facilities with serious and extensive records of inhumane conditions, implicating the 287(g) program because when the federal government partners with these jails and prisons it tacitly sanctions these conditions.

“Immigrant rights advocates have long known and made public our serious concerns about the racial profiling and civil rights abuses enabled by 287(g) contracts,” said Antonio Serrano, ACLU of Wyoming advocacy director. “Growing significantly under the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, the 287(g) program has become a megaphone for racist and xenophobic rhetoric by sheriffs’ offices and other law enforcement agencies. These agreements create a culture of division and suspicion that doesn’t serve anyone – least of all the community these departments are supposed to protect.”

The ACLU recommends the Biden administration end the 287(g) program entirely.

“In continuing partnerships with sheriffs who have shameful and persistent records of civil rights violations, particularly against Black and Brown communities, President Biden is sending a message that he sanctions and approves of these abuses,” said Naureen Shah, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU.  “By not ending the program entirely, the Biden administration is undermining its own efforts to repair the harm inflicted by the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda as well as its promise to hold law enforcement accountable for violating the law.”

About the ACLU of Wyoming

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of Wyoming is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and South Dakota. The team in Wyoming is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of Wyoming carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of Wyoming.