Op Ed: Sheriff Cummings Explains 287(g) Program

by Barnstable County Sheriff Jim Cummings
Op Ed: Sheriff Cummings explains the proposed partnership with ICE

287(g) Program: What it is – What it is not 

by Sheriff James Cummings

The national and local debate about immigration policy is often emotional (on both sides) and occasionally ripe with “fake news.” 

Recently my office filed an application with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to participate in their “Jail Model” program.  There seems to be some confusion about what 287(g) is and what it is not.  Section 287(g) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deputize selected state and local law enforcement officers to enforce selected federal immigration law.  

Specifically Section 287(g) allows the DHS and law enforcement agencies to make agreements, which require the state and local officers to receive training and work under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  ICE provides the officers with authorization to identify, process, and when appropriate to further detain immigration offenders already in their custody.  For the Sheriff’s Office, this means those who have already been arrested, arraigned and placed in our custody by a state judge on a separate and unique local criminal offense.

The 287(g) program is all about identifying criminality, not nationality.  The 287(g) agreement we requested to be a part of operates under a jail enforcement model, which functions solely within the confines of our jail in Bourne.   Under this model an alien must first be arrested by local law enforcement on other criminal charges and brought to the facility before any 287(g) screening activity takes place.  

The goal of this program is to enhance public safety by identifying aliens, lodging immigration detainers, and initiating removal proceedings by issuing charging documents on potentially deportable criminal aliens booked into the jail facility.

The Sheriff’s Office is not authorized or interested in patrolling our communities and detaining those individuals who are simply here illegally.  Such investigations and detentions are exclusively the responsibility of ICE.  The Sheriff’s Office role with illegal immigrants occurs solely within the inside of the correctional facility, thus there should be no impact to the reporting of crime in our community by someone who is here illegally. 

Any immigrant in the Country illegally and who commits a crime here in Barnstable County and is held on bail or without bail for that crime would be held at our correctional facility until their local charges are resolved, and then they would be turned over to ICE for disposition of any immigration related  charges.  Should an ICE detainee be held at the correctional facility for any time related to their ICE issues, the federal government would reimburse the Commonwealth $93 per day, thus there is no extra cost to the taxpayers.  We also have the capacity (we have over 200 available beds) within our existing facility and the staff to participate in the 287(g) program. 

In Barnstable County, I put the public safety first and foremost.  Following the law and working together with our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal level to remove violent and dangerous criminals from the streets and neighborhoods of Cape Cod will be enhanced by the 287(g) program.   If you don’t like the law as it is, you should call your elected members of Congress.  In the meantime, I and all of my deputies are sworn to uphold and enforce it.


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