What is 287(g)?

Hudson County is the home to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty, and one of the 20 most diverse counties in the country. However, out of 3,144 counties in the United State, Hudson County is one of only 41 counties to have a 287(g) agreement with ICE, which deputizes local correction officers to uphold President Donald Trump’s Immigration agenda at the local level.

Hudson County Correctional Facility entered into 287(g) agreement with ICE in 2010. The current agreement agreement with ICE was renewed by County Executive Tom DeGise on July 15, 2016. Either ICE or Hudson County Correctional Facility Director (Warden) can renew or rescind the agreement.

Read the ACLU-NJ position on Hudson County’s 287(g) renewal.

Hudson County ranks highest in lodging detainer requests for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New Jersey in FY 2015 (Hudson had 321 versus 50-80 in other county jails).

Harris County in Texas had a 287(g) agreement, too – until they terminated in February. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez stated that his motivation was not political and that he did this because his corrections officers already have enough work to do. In their campaign to terminate the Harris County 287(g), United We Dream put together an excellent video overview of the program:

What is all this talk about 287(g)? What is it?

Most people do not know what a 287(g) agreement is, or how it impacts Hudson County and the 8th Congressional District.

Under a 287(g) agreement, local law enforcement officers are deputized to act as immigration officers and to enforce the Federal immigration agenda, while on local payroll. 287(g) allows the designated jail official to issue immigration detainers. Immigration detainers could also come from ICE once the immigrant is fingerprinted and booked into the jail. Immigration detainers (or ICE holds) have been determined unconstitutional mainly because it asks jail facility to hold immigrants beyond the time allowed.

Under 287(g), local law enforcement officers act as immigration agents. They can investigate the immigration status of people in the jail, access Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) databases, and issue immigration detainers. With sign-off from an ICE supervisor, 287(g) officers can place people in removal proceedings and get people to sign their deportation orders and give up their right to see an immigration judge.

From the ICE website: “The 287(g) program, one of ICE’s top partnership initiatives, allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.”

Read the full text of the 287(g) agreement.

Why should I care?

Hudson County ranks highest in lodging detainer requests for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New Jersey in FY 2015 (Hudson had 321 versus 50-80 in other county jails)
•    287(g) allows the designated jail official to issue immigration detainers. Immigration detainers could also come from ICE once the immigrant is fingerprinted and booked into the jail. Immigration detainers (or ICE holds) have been determined unconstitutional mainly because it asks jail facility to hold immigrants beyond the time allowed.

Working with ICE is bad for public safety.
•    Local involvement in federal immigration enforcement perpetuates unjust deportations, leads to costly civil rights violations, and further damages the already fraught confidence in local police.
•    Having ICE agents or deputized 287(g) agents in the jail makes it clear that Hudson County law enforcement is not safe for immigrants, making the community less likely to report crimes or act as witnesses. The LAPD reports that Latinos are reporting fewer sexual assaults amid a climate of fear in immigrant communities – 287(g) only enhances that widespread fear in our own Hudson County community.

Hudson County Correctional Facility Director (Warden) chooses to involve itself in federal immigration enforcement.
•    Helping the federal government find and deport people is not Hudson County’s job
•    There is no legal obligation to participate in 287(g) or any immigration enforcement programs

Hudson County wastes its own money on immigration enforcement when the federal government has $18 billion for it already
•    This comes at the cost of other vital services that the County could improve, such as education and social services, which will better promote the well-being of our community.
•    The federal government already spends $18 billion on immigration enforcement – more than on the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, and all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined.
Cities, counties, and states across the country have disentangled themselves from ICE.
•    More than 350 jurisdictions across the country, including major cities like New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, and the District of Columbia, have disentangled themselves with federal immigration enforcement, due to immense financial and human costs as well as decreased community trust in local law enforcement.
•    Hudson County, a place of great diversity and home to many immigrants, should not be an outlier.

Read the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice position on local collaboration with ICE.

The Hudson County 287(g) was in place under President Obama. Isn’t the County just doing the same thing?


In his State of the County address Feb. 16, 2017, County Executive Tom Degise argued that the 287(g) is being enforced the same as it was under the Priorities Enforcement Program that was in place under Obama: “These rules narrow the category of individuals who may be flagged for an ICE detainer to only those who pose a meaningful threat to public safety. Statistics show that the guidelines for the 287(g) program, set by the Obama administration, limit its reach to a tiny number of very dangerous individuals.”

However, the Priorities set by the Obama administration have been supplanted by those of Donald Trump, and by the terms of the 287(g) agreement, local law enforcement must abide by the new policies – Hudson County cannot choose how the agreement may be enforced:

(2) An agreement under this subsection shall require that an officer or employee of a State or political subdivision of a State performing a function under the agreement shall have knowledge of, and adhere to, Federal law relating to the function, and shall contain a written certification that the officers or employees performing the function under the agreement have received adequate training regarding the enforcement of relevant Federal immigration laws.

(3) In performing a function under this subsection, an officer or employee of a State or political subdivision of a State shall be subject to the direction and supervision of the Attorney General.

Here are the differences between Obama’s PEP and Trump’s Executive Order of Feb 20, 2017 – four days after DeGise’s statement of support for 287(g):

Obama’s Priorities Enforcement Program

DHS Memo November 20, 2014

(a) aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who otherwise pose a danger to national security;
(b) aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States;
(c) aliens convicted of an offense for which an element was active participation in a criminal street gang, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 52 l(a), or aliens not younger than 16 years of age who intentionally participated in an organized criminal gang to further the illegal activity of the gang;
(d) aliens convicted of an offense classified as a felony in the convicting jurisdiction, other than a state or local offense for which an essential element was the alien’s immigration status; and
(e) aliens convicted of an “aggravated felony,” as that term is defined in section 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act at the time of the conviction.

Trump’s Immigration Priorities

Executive Order EO 13768, Implemented by DHS Memo Feb 20, 2017:

(I) have been convicted of any criminal offense; (2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved; (3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense; ( 4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency; (5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

Read the National Immigration Law Center piece on the new Executive Order.

What is the “Bed Contract”? If the 287(g) agreement is terminated, won’t immigration detainees simply be shipped off elsewhere? Isn’t it better to keep them close to home?

In addition to the 287(g) agreement, Hudson County has an Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA), or “Bed Contract”, as it is known colloquially, whereby Federal Immigration detainees are housed the Hudson County Detention Center in exchange for over $100 per night. As of Feb. 21,  there were 618 Federal immigration detainees being housed at the Detention Center, according to Deputy Director Ron Edwards of the Hudson County Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. In Fiscal year 2015-16, Hudson County received over $20 million in reimbursement for housing Federal immigration detainees.

However, it is a common misconception that the 287(g) and IGSA are the same thing, or that they are linked together, which they are not. Hudson County is the only entity in New Jersey that has both the 287(g) and the IGSA. Monmouth, Hudson, Salem, and Cape May have 287(g) contracts. Bergen, Essex, and Hudson have IGSA (bed contracts).

The 287(g) may be terminated at any time by the County Executive Tom DeGise, and it would have no impact on the IGSA “Bed Contract”. All that is required is a one sentence letter to ICE, terminating the agreement. The IGSA would not be affected in any way, but local law corrections officer would then no longer be performing Federal immigration duties.

Jersey City and Union City recently enacted “Sanctuary City” legislation – aren’t residents there now protected from ICE?

No. If a resident is picked up for any offense, in any Hudson County municipality – even for jaywalking – and subsequently sent to Hudson County Detention Center, they are subject to questions regarding place of birth and immigration status – before they are charged with a crime. Local police officers have no discretion over what happens to perpetrators once they arrive at the Hudson County Detention Center.

Doesn’t the recent New Jersey bail reform protect low-level offenders residents ?

Once again – all perpetrators are subject to ICE review before they are charged. Furthermore, as immigration violations are treated as civil, rather than criminal offenses, detainees are not entitled to legal representation, and can be detained indefinitely without access to an attorney or their families. Once someone has been flagged by ICE, through the agency of local deputized corrections officers, they can be shipped anywhere, with no legal recourse.

Op-Ed Links

April 20, 2017: West New York residents want Roque to take action against ICE agreement
April 14, 2017: The Constitution: A sanctuary for cities that don’t want to do ICE’s bidding
March 8, 2017: Hoboken NAACP begs to differ with DeGise’s ‘warmth’ for ICE
March 1, 2017: Police chiefs’ immigration task force outlines opposition to Trump policy
Feb 26, 2017: Hudson County needs to take sanctuary role seriously
Feb 22, 2017: Pact means Hudson obligated to enforce Trump’s deportation rules
May 23, 2016: End Hudson County agreement with immigration enforcement agency

*Read the March 18 letter to Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and the Board of Freeholders, signed on by the following groups:
American Friends Service Committee
Anakbayan New Jersey
Comitė En Unión para Salvadoreños (CEUS)
First Friends of New Jersey and New York
Food and Water Watch
Force the Issue NJ
Haiti Solidarity Network of the North East
Hudson Civic Action
Jersey City Peace Movement
Jersey City Stands
Migrante New Jersey
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns
New Jersey Forum for Human Rights
NJ Filipina Women’s Organizing Committee
Philippine American NJ Junior Chamber International
Sisa Pakari Cultural and Labor Center
The Resistance Jersey City