As of the writing of this entry, there are only a few counties in Florida counties with a 287g agreement (can be seen here). These agreements between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies are expected to increase significantly throughout Florida under the Trump administration. While pitched to localities as enhancing community safety, such agreements historically have the opposite effect. Section 287g of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) deputizes state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law. Here in Jacksonville, the program is implemented at the jail level. When an immigrant is arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) and taken to jail, they will in all likelihood be questioned by a specially trained 287g officer regarding their immigration status. If the arrestee has no lawful immigration status, under the current enforcement priorities, they will be issued a detainer, commonly referred to as an “ICE hold.” Within the 48 hour period following the conclusion of their criminal sentence or the payment of bond in their criminal case, ICE will assume custody of the person. Often they will then be transferred to the Baker County Jail in Macclenny, and may even be sent to a different or several different, immigration detention centers. There is an inmate search that can be found here.
Knowing that even a minor arrest for a misdemeanor offense may lead to lengthy immigration detention and possible deportation from the U.S., many foreign nationals are fearful. Amongst those who may also be swept up in the broad reach of 287g are victims of domestic violence who may have been acting in self-defense or collaterally arrested, primary caregivers of minor children, asylum seekers, and members of other vulnerable groups. The 287g program, which is often touted as increasing community safety, may actually make our community less safe if immigrant communities fear that contact with local law enforcement will lead to detention and deportation. This is especially true now where even the simplest of infractions resulting in arrest can directly lead to that person’s deportation and permanent separation from their loved ones.
Our laws are designed to protect all people within our community, regardless of their status. Pushing people further into the shadows will only increase the likelihood that such populations are more frequently victimized as perpetrators of crime would target them knowing they are less likely to report crime. When less crimes are reported, more criminals are free to commit additional crimes.
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