Johnson Joins Colleagues to Reintroduce Bill to Stymie Trump Administration’s Efforts To Deputize Local Police as Immigration Agents

May 15, 2019
Press Release
Bill would repeal 287(g) program, which allows ICE to partner with local law enforcement to serve as immigration officers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) with Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Jesus “Chuy” García (IL-04), and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) re-introduced legislation that seeks to remove the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to contract with local law enforcement for the purposes of enforcing federal immigration law. The reintroduction comes on the heels of a new ICE initiative unveiled last week that allows local law enforcement officers to individually partner with ICE, even if the jurisdictions in which they work do not have formal 287(g) agreements. In the Senate, the bill is led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The PROTECT Immigration Act would repeal the 287(g) provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the Department of Homeland Security to contract with state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. The program has scaled up significantly during the Trump Administration, more than doubling since Trump took office – from 36 agreements in 16 states in January 2017 to 80 agreements in 21 states as of last week.

“Local and state law enforcement already have a job to do—protecting and serving their communities. Immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government. The 287(g) program erodes the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve and too often relies on profiling and racist stereotypes,” said Congressman Mike Quigley. “Police should be building trust with their communities instead of using their limited resources to serve as part of this administration’s deportation force.”

“Having local law enforcement act as de facto immigration agents to enforce federal immigration law is fundamentally unsafe. This misuse of the police leads to increased racial profiling, ultimately damaging public trust in law enforcement and jeopardizing the safety of everyone in our communities. Congress must continue to fight Trump’s unjust immigration policies that are harming our country and making our communities less safe,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

“The 287g program acts as a cancer in the communities where it is still implemented, often putting residents at odds with the officers sworn to protect them. The law serves as a blank check for local officials to discriminate, demonize and racially profile the immigrant community — the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, productive citizens. Immigration policy and its implementation are the purview of the federal government and should not be carried out by local and state law enforcement. On top of that, this program is costing local county governments millions of dollars that would be better spent lifting up, not locking up, the community,” said Congressman Hank Johnson.

“Programs that enable state and local law enforcement agents to assume federal immigration enforcement responsibilities will increase racial profiling, undermine public safety, and exact undue suffering on immigrant communities. Our legislation would prevent the fraudulent use of local taxpayer funds to convert local police agencies into extensions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who effectively tear families apart and terrorize law-abiding, hard-working families. Our communities don’t need more enforcement, they need investments in education, access to affordable healthcare, and jobs,” said Congressman Chuy García.

“Rather than helping our immigration enforcement efforts, the 287(g) program undermines the authority of local officials and law enforcement to do their jobs and keep the public safe, while demonizing and unfairly profiling immigrants and people of color. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in sponsoring this bill to end the 287(g) program, allowing our men and women of law enforcement to do their jobs effectively and set their own local public safety priorities. Mandates from Washington that lead to racial profiling and additional costs to local taxpayers are not the answer,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia.

“With limited time and resources, local and state law enforcement should be focused on keeping their communities safe and pursuing serious threats, not acting as ICE agents,” Senator Cory Booker said. “Immigration enforcement should be the job of the federal government and it’s time we revoke ICE’s authority to deputize our local police officers.” 

The bill is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Asian-Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Detention Watch Network, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Hispanic Federation, the Immigration Hub, Indivisible, National Council of Jewish Women, the National Immigrant Justice Center and United We Dream.

“This legislation is a crucial step toward halting ICE’s destructive ensnarement of local law enforcement in the Administration’s deportation agenda. The 287(g) program leads to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses, as we have seen in jurisdictions across the country. It also diverts scarce resources from traditional local law enforcement functions, and distorts the often-times already fractured relationship between communities and police. We applaud Congress for beginning to confront this growing problem, and will continue to support the end of 287(g) nationwide,” said ACLU Deputy Political Director, Lorella Praeli.

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Date Roll Call Bill Vote
7/31/2020 178 H.R.7617 Yea
7/31/2020 177 H.R.7617 Nay
7/31/2020 176 H.R.7617 Nay
7/30/2020 175 H.R.7617 Yea
7/30/2020 174 H.R.7617 Yea