One reason why these deeply flawed 287(g) agreements have been so dangerous is because they’ve resulted in family separation after getting stopped for a simple driving violation. (Yes, a broken tail light has meant deportation for some families.) This is particularly terrifying for regions with large immigrant communities, like Cobb and Gwinnett. The two counties alone are home to nearly 120,000 undocumented residents.
ICE has also been running this program in conjunction with law enforcement departments all across the nation without even having a mechanism in place to track if it’s working. (It’s not, by the way.) “A January 2021 GAO report found that ICE had failed to establish performance goals for the 287(g) program and did not have measures in place to systematically assess its effectiveness,” the American Immigration Council said last year.
While the 287(g) cancellations represent only a part of much-needed policing reforms, they were also significant because they were community-led.
“The sheriffs’ decision to withdraw from 287(g) came on the heels of sustained activism from local immigrant groups like GLAHR, which mobilized against the program since its arrival to metro Atlanta in 2007,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continued. Journalist Rafael Navarro told the outlet that Spanish-language stories on Cobb and Gwinnett counties terminating their agreements were the most popular of 2021.
“This was a demand from communities of color,” Nicholls told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We spent over 10 years fighting 287(g) in both these counties.”
While the agreements are gone in Cobb and Gwinnett counties, they’ve continued to wreak havoc elsewhere. In Tennessee, asylum-seeker Maira Oviedo-Granados dialed 911 for help when a previously violent boyfriend tried to attack her, only to end up getting arrested herself. She’s since sued over the policy, which Knox News reports might have been unlawfully implemented.
”For years, immigrant activists said 287(g) would make residents less safe because they'd be afraid to call 911,” tweeted Knox News reporter Tyler Whetstone. But sheriffs “dismissed this fear.” House Democrats nearly a year ago urged the Biden administration to terminate the program entirely, saying they “turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation.” Immigrant communities everywhere continue to wait.
“ICE's 287(g) program splits families apart, devastates communities, and undermines safety,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Brian Tashman tweeted. “When newly elected sheriffs in Georgia canceled their 287(g) agreements, the benefits were enormous; now it's time for the Biden administration to end it nationwide.”
RELATED: House Democrats urge Homeland Security to end department's racist and flawed agreements with police
RELATED: Georgia county's new Democratic sheriff ends flawed and racist ICE agreement on first day in office