287(g) to Be Shut Down, Low Hopes for Replacement Program

The Department of Homeland Security is looking to phase out the controversial 287(g) section of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Criticized by civil and human rights advocates for prompting acts of racial profiling, DHS largely excluded the 287(g) in its 2013 budget proposal.

According to the proposal, immigration services will not include any new contracts for 287(g) local programs, and will terminate all of the least productive existing agreements in the 24 states where 287(g) is active. Because each agreement between a local police force and the federal government lasts a maximum of three years, all 287(g) programs will soon go the way of the dinosaur; according to USA Today, only eight police forces have signed up since 2010. By terminating the program, DHS hopes to save an estimated $17 million annually.

Critics also believed that 287(g) bred fear in the communities of those without U.S. citizenship. Because local law enforcement could arrest those suspected of having an undocumented immigration status, many residents, both those with and without legal citizenship, lived with the constant anxiety of being arrested for paltry crimes.

However, many immigration advocates are not pleased with the program, called Secure Communities, which is slated to replace 287(g), either. Some critics believe that this new program will be riddled with different, albeit just as plentiful a number of problems.

“The 287(g) program has been repeatedly called into question by advocates as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, and should be terminated rather than sustained with taxpayer money,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, in an interview with USA Today. “The Secure Communities program is surrounded by grave concerns about the impact to public safety, community policing and civil rights abuses.”