A GAO report released Tuesday night exposed some major flaws in the 287(g) program, according to the Washington Post. The report said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E), the overseer of the program, intended for 287(g) to be a plan to identify serious criminal offenders who are illegal immigrants and who needed to be removed from the country.

Some of the 67 jurisdictions who have trained for 298(g) with ICE are using 287(g) as a way to harass immigrants and to put ice detainers on individuals stopped for minor infractions like urinating in public and open alcohol containers, contrary to the objectives of the program.

In Prince William County and elsewhere, 287(g) has proved a lightning rod for critics who charge that communities are using it to intimidate and that it can lead to a form of profiling in which officers stop individuals who appear Latino or foreign on the pretext of minor violations in order to check their immigration status.

Prince William County was not mentioned as one of the jurisdictions who violated the intent of the program by harassing minor offenders,

*Although the GAO report noted that many local authorities said the program had helped make their communities safer, the authors found that ICE, the agency that administers 287(g), has failed to provide its state and local partners with clearly defined objectives for the program or to create a consistent system for supervising them.

The authors warned that confusion over the purpose of 287(g) could result in referrals of a “unmanageable number” of low-priority illegal immigrants to ICE as well as “misuse of authority” by local officials.

According to the report, one sheriff said that his understanding of his authority was that “287(g)-trained officers could go to people’s homes and question individuals regarding their immigration status even if the individual is not suspected of criminal activity.”
“Although it does not appear that any officers used the authority in this manner,” the report continued, “it is illustrative of the lack of clarity regarding program objectives and the use of 287(g) authority by participating agencies.”

This sounds like a situation that needs immediate oversight. Most of us here at Anti have supported the 287(g) program because we want dangerous criminals removed from our community. We have trusted Chief Deane and ADC Superintendent Pete Meletis to do the right thing.

39 Thoughts to “287(g) Program Riddled with Ambiguity”

  1. Elena

    Very interesting article. I am in 100% agreement with you M-H and have been reiterating this same sentiment. Why are we wasting our precious resources on people who are here working hard, simply trying to better their lives instead of focusing on the dangerous criminals, NO MATTER what their status.

  2. Censored bybvbl

    The response section to this article in the WaPo is riddled with comments in support of using this program to round up everyone who is here illegally, regardless of whether that person has committed a crime. In other words, the respondents support the abuse found in the system. They appear oblivious to the inevitable problems that will occur/are occurring. ICE will be understaffed for the number of referrals. The government presently isn’t prepared to spend the funds necessary to deport everyone these localities report. The program will be deemed a failure because too many participants abuse the system by flooding it with referrals outside the scope for which it was designed. It’s already used by only a small minority of local/state governments.

  3. ShellyB

    I am glad Prince William County is not mentioned for abuse of power or racial profiling. I hope it’s true. Chief Deane is has been so strong and admirable in leading by example. But once you create this kind of hysteria regarding immigration, it is only a matter of time that it gets into the head of a police officer that he ought to pull something like this.

  4. Lucky Duck

    In the Prince William County police department every 287(G)application is reviewed by several supervisors in different divisions, no less than four and up to several more to ensure the program is applied as required and intended. Every application is documented and the ADC is notified and that record is also maintained. You can read for yourself in the policy that was/is posted on the website.

    It is important to remember however, that there are instances in which an illegal or undocumented alien will be caught up because of an offense such as driving without a license or DWI etc. BUT, these individuals are taken into custoday just as a US Citizen would also be for committing the same offense(s).

    However, because they are in custody, the illegal or undocumented alien will trigger the ICE notification. Such action DOES NOT cost the police department any additional resources, since any person, legally here or not, would be taken into physical custody for such offenses.

  5. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    We have some loose thoughts that need to be tied together here. I’d say the most appropriate and accurate tying together would be as follows: Elena’s “people who are here to work hard” goes best with “urinating in public” and “simply trying to better their lives” seems to match up almost perfectly with “open alcohol containers”. There, now the puzzle is all put together! You’re welcome!

  6. Moon-howler

    Slow, do you want to spend the money to deport people for whizzing on the side of a building or having an open beer? It seems like a waste of time and money to me.

    Do you think immigrants are here just to piss you off or do you think they might want a better life, even if that is defined as ‘more money?’

  7. ShellyB

    Lucky Duck, thanks for the policy explanation. I fear that other jurisdictions outside of Prince William County are not run as well, nor under as much scrutiny. This is making me rethink the whole idea of 287(g). Because in an environment where everyone is under suspicion of being “illegal,” abuses are more likely, and this 287g thing only seems to pop up where there is a lot of cultural conflict and fear, real or imagined, of an “invasion.” That kind of hysteria has to infect the police officers to some degree.

  8. Slowpoke Rodriguez


    No, MH, I would deport them for being here illegally, the whizzing on the sidewalk, is more of a cultural thing. The best part is, I wouldn’t charge the taxpayers a penny, I’d pay for deportations with fines on employers who use illegals. The poultry industry alone would cover a large part of the cost.

  9. Alanna

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the ICE officers are also out and about in the County. They are not just sitting behind a desk or ONLY checking people’s status after arrest.

  10. Lucky Duck

    No Alanna, the PWCPD Officers trained under 287(G) are not out and about looking for illegals. If that were the case, they’d just have to drive to a few well known places and locate them. They are used when a subject in an investigation (like some of the recent homicides or abuse cases) turn out to be in this Country illegally. They also take over investigations in which the suspect(s) have been proven to be illegal.

    And yes, they do check every arrest involving a illegal alien. As stated previously, if its a serious crime, they will follow up with the suspect at the ADC.

    The ICE trained officers are not used to “round up” anyone nor to target people illegally here who are not arrested. If they stay out of trouble, those individuals never meet anyone from the police department.

  11. Lucky Duck

    ShellyB…ask some of the officers, you’d be surprised at how small a deal the resolution was/is to the line officers. They have been dealing with illegal/undocumented people since the late 80’s. Not a big deal to come across someone in that status at all. I didn’t notice any “hysteria” on any officers part that I came across. Most the overblown attention was from the politicians and some groups. To County employees, it was just another day at work.

  12. Moon-howler

    Lucky Duck :

    No Alanna, the PWCPD Officers trained under 287(G) are not out and about looking for illegals. If that were the case, they’d just have to drive to a few well known places and locate them….

    The ICE trained officers are not used to “round up” anyone nor to target people illegally here who are not arrested. If they stay out of trouble, those individuals never meet anyone from the police department.

    This is critical content to make sure everyone we talk to knows! There is a letter to the editor at insidenova.com that indicates the opposite. It is shocking how people tend to believe what they want to believe.

    Some of misinformation is being propagated by red circle types. I guess they want to win at any cost, regardless of how many lies are involved.

    Lucky Duck, thanks for clarifying.

    On another note, this policy should provide strong incentive for people out of status to follow our laws and not get into trouble.

  13. Moon-howler

    BTW, Thanks Poor Richard for bringing this article to our attention.

  14. YankeeForever

    ICE officers are called to the scene of arrests–the most recent I am aware of is a group arrested for larceny at a PWC department store near where I work. The ID’s they produced were clearly fake, and ICE officers were on the scene.

  15. Lucky Duck

    YankeeForever, that would happen. If false ID’s are used and a crime committed the 287(G) officers have expertise in that area and they would be used to identify the suspects. ICE officers are not called to all arrests scenes…there are only a few of them on PWCPD.

    But again, the 287(G) officers are not out “hunting down” illegal aliens.

  16. ShellyB

    Thank you Lucky Duck. You sound like Chief Deane, and actually make me feel confident that Prince William County is doing something right. By the books, without abuses. If only you had as much megaphone power as Corey Stewart does.

  17. Rebecca

    Slow, I realize we cannot deport everyone. Wouldn’t you rather deport someone who had committed serious crimes rather than someone drinking beer in public? I see this issue as one of priorities.

  18. Rebecca, you hit the nail on the head. The ratio of police officers to residents in Prince William County is very poor. Our officers patrol alone, without a partner, and are often asked to enter unknown and possibly dangerous situations without back-up, either because other cruisers are too far away, or other officers are busy dealing with more pressing matters.

    The same is true of federal law enforcement, particularly Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Can you imagine the ratio of ICE agents to undocumented immigrants in this country?

    Priorities is the very word that Chief Deane tried to impress on the Board when they were lunging blindly into the Immigration Resolution, it’s costs, and it’s unintended consequences. He talked about focusing on “the worst of the worst,” which is a way of saying let’s use 287(g) and other tools available to keep this community safe.

    But as many have already demonstrated, public safety was not the driving force behind the Immigration Resolution. The driving force had to do with demographic shifts, that made some people uncomfortable, and drove others to distraction.

    I have supported 287(g), and still do despite the revelations in this article, because I believe that Chief Deane has a handle on the situation.

    But the pitfalls of 287(g) are as follows. The program is supposed to prioritize … to focus on “serious crimes” I believe it says … so that officers are not pulled away from their primary duty, which is to keep the community safe, in order to deal with people who are not a threat to public safety.

    The problem has been, in this community and in others that have implemented the program, that the definition of a “serious crime” has expanded and expanded and expanded some more, so that the program begins to criminalize the entire unauthorized migrant population, in the eyes of police officers and in the eyes of the public. This was NOT the intention of 287(g). But all it takes if for one misguided leader to throw this program out of wack. If you expand the definition of “serous crime” to include not having a drivers license, or a stolen social security number … you’re going to be asking public safety officers to spend their time rounding up people for driving, and for working … two activities that are quite common.

    We just don’t have the manpower or the resources to do this.

    Now, with regard to the Immigration Resolution, this was going way beyond 287(g), which as Lucky Duck explains, applies only to those people who are arrested. The Immigration Resolution required police officers to spend extra time on anyone they encountered, no matter if a crime had been committed, if there was “probable cause” to suspect a person might be undocumented. This exposed the county to unnecessary legal jeopardy, and created the impression among immigrant and minority communities that a hostile and often hateful group of activists had enlisted the police force as heavies to drive them from the county. It was because of the former, not the latter, that the “probable cause” standard was repealed … thanks in great part to the leadership and networking exhibited on this blog.

    If not for citizens and Board members working together to repeal “probable cause” over the fierce objection of Corey Stewart, and Help Save Manassas (remember the famous quote “over my dead body?”) … Prince William County would be facing millions of dollars in legal expenses to go along with all the other budgetary challenges we face today.

    The Bush Justice Department had politely let us know they were going to have to sue us.

    So, there is a consensus among moderate and reasonable people that 287(g) is a compromise that we all can live with, in part because we all have great faith in our officers and in our Chief of Police, and in part because the Immigration Resolution was so inane and so extreme that anything would be preferable. But if county money is going to be spent on immigration related issues, 287(g) is the best way to do so, because, at least in principle, it prioritizes serious crime over expired visas or driving without a license.

  19. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    I agree with you. Serious criminals have to go. It doesn’t matter much, though, when our southern border is porous, they just walk right back in. So I would use employer fines (which would mean actual enforcement) to pay for deporting in the order of degree. The ones we don’t deport would likely leave due to lack of opportunity. American citizens would have jobs. So I’m not saying “deport everyone”…..any fool knows that’s not cost-effective, but to the extent workplace enforcement would pay for it, go right ahead.

  20. So, there is a consensus among moderate and reasonable people that 287(g) is a compromise that we all can live with

    Except that you’re not the one who is really going to be living with it, are you white man?

    There is simply no need for 287g.

    Dangerous criminals, when caught, will be taken off the streets, irregardless of whether we have a 287g program or not.

    If you support 287g, you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with FAIR and other like minded institutions.

  21. Slowpoke said

    Serious criminals have to go. It doesn’t matter much, though, when our southern border is porous, they just walk right back in.

    Given that this is absolutely the indisputable truth, it should lead us to ask why some people choose to remain in denial about the use of a persecution program clothed in legitimacy like 287g. If people can just walk back across the border, 287g has no legitimacy…unless of course the intention is to politically placate all those people who want to see ‘something’ done about illegal immigration, no matter how inane and abusive that ‘something’ is.

  22. Lucky Duck

    No, if you support 287(G) you are NOT “standing shoulder to shoulder with FAIR and other like minded institutions.” People that are here illegally SHOULD follow the law like everyone else, but if they are some other country’s citizen and not ours, why should we keep that criminal element in our society? Our government has a responsibility to protect those who are legally here. We have NO responsibility to those here illegally who prey on other to let them stay here. They lose that chance.

    Criminals get out of jail at some point and then they are even better trained criminals. Better to deport them so our society does not have to be victimized yet again. At that point, the only thing we owe them is a free flight home.

  23. Lucky Duck

    “persecution program”? What substance did you have for breakfast? How do you defend the right of another country’s citizen, illegally here, to stay here after committing a crime and making a victim of someone else?

    Ship that person home.

  24. ShellyB

    Lucky Duck, what about Mackie’s point? If it’s so easy for people who are deported to come back to the U.S., would it not be better to incarcerate the real criminals, have them serve their time in our prisons, and then deport them? Is there an argument to be had in not allowing them to learn more about crime from American prisoners? Seems to be what you’re saying.

    I know that a large percentage of the undocumented immigrants Prince William County taxpayers have paid millions of dollars to send to ICE have returned almost immediately to our community. But that means they were simply released by ICE, because of that “priority” thing where ICE releases those who are not a threat. Right? Or, are we paying precious tax payer dollars to have real criminals deported only to seem them come straight back to Prince William County?

  25. ShellyB

    Mackie, can you explain, calmly if you would, how it is that a person who is not a violent or dangerous criminal would get caught up in 287G, assuming there are no police abuses of power?

    We all objected to the Immigration Resolution because it was designed to unfairly target anyone who looked like an immigrant. But since 287G is after arrest, that means the only way a non-criminal would be victimized would be if they were falsely arrested. Right?

  26. Moon-howler

    Mackie, I need to ask you to calm it down a notch or 2 and not call names based on someone’s race.(or what you think their race is) It isn’t the Anti way. Thanks.

  27. Lucky Ducky,

    People that are here illegally SHOULD follow …

    We have NO responsibility…

    “persecution program”? What substance did you have for breakfast?

    Please stop shouting and insulting. You sound unhinged.

    And as for breakfast:

    I like green eggs and ham!
    I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
    And I would eat them in a boat!
    And I would eat them with a goat…
    And I will eat them in the rain.
    And in the dark. And on a train.
    And in a car. And in a tree.
    They are so goodm so goodm you see!
    So I will eat them in a box.
    And I will eat them with a fox.
    And I will eat them in a house.
    And I will eat them with a mouse.
    And I will eat them here and there.
    Say! I will eat them ANHYWHERE!
    I do so like
    green eggs and ham!
    Thank you!
    Thank you,

  28. Alanna

    Lucky Duck,
    Is everyone arrested convicted of a crime?

  29. @Moon-howler

    Mackie, I need to ask you to calm it down a notch or 2 and not call names based on someone’s race.(or what you think their race is) It isn’t the Anti way. Thanks.

    How curious that you ignore when Lucky Ducky is shouting and leveling insults against me.

    Why the double standard? Your integrity is suspect.

  30. Lucky Duck

    ShellyB, I agree that those here illegally and convicted should serve their time and then be deported. They should serve out their sentence but be given no chance to return to our society. They had their chance.

    Alanna, you know that not everyone arrested is convicted of a crime. But those that are convicted and not legally here should not get yet a second chance to victimize anyone again. They should be deported.

    Hey Mackie, nobody is shouting. I never even insulted your ethinic background like you did to others. Take a pill.

  31. ShellyB

    Lucky Duck: so does that mean that 287G only kicks in after convictions? What is worrying me is this idea of pulling people over just to check their status, and using race as the basis for this. Or even arresting people on fake charges just to check their status. I have heard this is happening, not in PWC thank goodness, but in Manassas City. If 287G is only after conviction, then we wouldn’t have to worry at all. But I thought it was after arrest. So, the people who are exposed to possible injustice are people wrongfully arrested, or people arrested for things that are so minor that they ought not to have been arrested.

    Mackie, can’t you admit that you shouldn’t have said something racial in anger and just say sorry? An apology goes a long way on this blog.

  32. Lucky Duck

    ShellyB, no, 278(G) will kick in as soon as the person is brought to the ADC. Each and every inmate is questioned about their nation of residence and citizenship. However, ICE does not take into custody every person at the ADC that is illegally in the country. They look for those who have been charged and/or convicted of a particular set of crimes. There exists a set of criminal acts which expedite the deportation process.

    I suspect some of those individuals who are illegal and wind up returning to the County are those whom ICE has declined, because of sheer numbers or the lack of charges on specific crimes, to take into custody and initiate deportation proceedings.

  33. Moon-howler

    Mackie, Lucky Duck made no references about your specific race. I believe I was very explicit about what I was talking about.

    Suspect my integrity all you want. I am suspecting what you are smoking.

  34. Moon-Howler,

    Suspect my integrity all you want. I am suspecting what you are smoking.

    Is this really appropriate for an admin?

    Perhaps you can envision a debate about systematic racism while ignoring the inevitable correlation between the white skin of those who support it and the fact that they will not be on the receiving end. But this is akin to talking about why republicans support lower taxes without pointing out that they might have something financial to gain. And I know you wouldn’t call that an honest debate. It is denial however.

  35. Lucky Duck

    What is or is not “systematic racism” is open to debate. Again, how can you justify returning criminals who are illegaly in this country to our county? They are not here in a legal sense, they have committed a crime, so what and who gives those individuals the right to stay here? Fly them home. Let them be a pox on their own society.

    If you will, please justify their right to remain in the United States?

  36. It’s interesting how you ignore the point I’m making.

    No one is saying that real criminals should not be deported. Stop putting words in people’s mouths. Stop setting up straw-man arguments. It’s very unbecoming of an officer of the law.

    If deporting real criminals so that they could not return was the goal, then 287g is useless because they can just walk back across the border.

    So how can anyone support 287g when it’s absolutely useless…except for politicians who want to placate a sector of the citizenry that doesn’t care what’s done as long as ‘something’ is done.

  37. Lucky Duck

    Once again Mackie, you make assumptions of which you no nothing about. Back yourself down a notch or two.

    You know as well as I do that not everyone deported returns. And I’ll take the time they are out of the Country as a period where they cannot victimize anyone else.

  38. Moon-howler

    Mackie, you have yelled racism charges at some many of us so many times I no longer listen. I find it odd that you come to the blog that is trying to right some of the wrongs that might be perceived as racism and start in on us.

  39. I find it odd that you come to the blog that is trying to right some of the wrongs that might be perceived as racism

    By supporting 287g???

    With friends like this, who needs enemies.

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