How County prisons and ICE cooperate

Find out how the government passed section 285 (g) and how this affects the immigrant community.

During the last few years we have witnessed very discouraging stories regarding the immigrant community in the United States, and it seems that the situation is getting worse. The current government has been trying to revive the 287 (g) program since 2017, and its goal is to charge and deport foreign citizens.

However, did you know that, even amid these negative developments, you still have rights with which to fight back? The right to an attorney is indispensable in these cases because it will not be an easy process to win.

Every day there are more and more counties that become part of this controversial program which grants local authorities the power of immigration officials. They cooperate with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Immigration and Enforcement Agency (ICE), with the purpose of “complying” with Immigration Law. But, is that really its goal? Is this not just a law that unfairly targets foreign citizens?

In order to have an idea of how far the 285 g program reaches, it is important to clarify that this is an initiative that has come about with ICE’s help.

If you want to know more, you should first know that ICE is the largest investigation agency in the United States Homeland Security Department.

That is why, knowing how this law works is very important for the immigrant community to avoid mistakes if they are detained. If it happens, remain silent, calm, avoid signing any documents, and hire a competent lawyer right away.

What is the 285 G program? 

This program is also known as Law 287 (g). It is part of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the government to authorize local authorities to act as if they were immigration officers. They actually have the authority to detain foreign citizens.

The program is very controversial because most people assume that this program is just a way to arrest to those people who “should be deported”, regardless of which charges they have, and that this may endanger the rule of law in the country.

Likewise, many other people believe that this law is a means to increase discrimination because there are many sheriffs and police officers who have decided not to take part of the program. There are others who, on the other hand, by using and abusing their uniforms have arrested foreign citizens just to deport them.

Under the Trump administration, the anti-immigration policies have become more frequent. The 287 g Law started on January 25, 2017 President Trump himself signed a presidential decree that authorized the National Security Agency to pressure local and state authorities to accept the 287 g program and cooperate with ICE.

Such a program works only works when there is a contract, since it must be implemented by signing an agreement between ICE and either the county or any other security agency, depending on the  case at hand.

Later on, it is the federal government the one who has the duty to guarantee training local agents in immigration matters, so that they can fill the role of an immigration agent in each one of the participating counties.

From the prisons, these agents are responsible of reviewing documents, checking the legal status of the suspects, proving whether he or she has been detained previously, and can even start a deportation process. This has been strongly criticized. 

What can you do if you have been detained? 

It has never been and never will be easy to be an immigrant, especially in a country like the United States. However, the immigrant community is constantly growing here, and it often faces difficult situations which are very hard to handle. That is why, if you are an immigrant and you are detained, it is of paramount importance that you keep in mind the following:

  • You must write down or memorize the personal information of the officer who detains you. 
  • Even if you feel extremely vulnerable, you still have the right to remain silent.  
  • You also have the right to talk to an immigration attorney. 
  • Once you have an attorney, it is advisable that you are as open and transparent as possible with him or her. The attorney can only make the right decisions to help you if he has accurate and truthful information. 

The arrests do no not always take place on the street or at work. As a matter of fact, ICE often detains people in their own houses. In cases like this a foreign citizen should keep in mind: 

  • Do not open the door of your house.
  • It is of utmost importance to ask for the warrant that allows the possible detention. This document must a judge’s signature, and his personal information properly written. It could happen that the documents has mistakes. If this is so, the suspect can deny entry to the officer. 
  • Just as if the detention had taken place in your house, you should avoid speaking to an officer if your lawyer is not present. 
  • Under no circumstance should you volunteer personal information such as date of birth, criminal record, or details about how you entered the United States.  
  • NEVER sign any documents you do not understand and that your attorney has not verified beforehand. 
  • You should not give away information about you legal status in the country, it could be used against you. 

Do you have any rights? 

  • It will all depend on each county, and knowing about it is quite important if you want to know what to do. For example, if they ask you for your personal information, you need to remember that the suspect has the right to remain silent. 
  • It is possible that ICE may go to your house, so try to keep in mind that you are not obliged to let them into your house. But if you are dealing with a more sensitive matter such as a felony, then it is better cooperate with them. Learning more about it is of utmost importance.
  • If you have been detained by the police, you have the right to an immigration attorney who has been authorized by the American government.  
  • Situations can change when a person is arrested by ICE, because unlike the last situation we discussed, the US government has no obligation to provide an attorney. 
  • We have already mentioned that you have the right to remain silent, and no one can force you to answer to any questions. However, if you have been arrested at an airport or at the border, different rules apply. 

Generally, the following is advisable:

  • Remain calm.
  • Avoid resistance or make it difficult for immigration officers in charge of your case. You could make things worse. 
  • Under no circumstances should you give the officers fake documents.

“Knowing how this law works is very important for the immigrant community to avoid mistakes if they are detained. If it happens, remain silent, calm, avoid signing any documents, and hire a competent lawyer right away. “

What are ICE’s responsibilities?

Just as we mentioned in the beginning, ICE is an American agency that is responsible for detaining and deporting immigrant residents who do not have a legal immigration status in the US.

ICE works in close partnership with a large portion of local prisons that offer information so ICE can find people who currently live in the country illegally, and arrest them. This is done regardless of whether there is a release date, because even if there are no charges, they can still detain people. Therefore, it is not surprise that so many people oppose this law, since it is seen as an unfair measure that goes against basic human rights.

As if this was about some sort of persecution, this infamous agency is in charge of tracking down people so they can later raid them at work directly in their workplaces or at home. Is this not a totally unjustified persecution against immigrants? Is this not a man hunt?

In order for you to have an idea of the far-reaching effect of this anti-immigration policy, in which ICE and local police authorities cooperate, in 2018 there were about 155,000 arrests of foreign citizens who lived in the Unites States illegally. ICE stated that about 60% of those detainees were convicted felons. But the truth of the matter is that it is not usually like that, and many people are arrested in a truly unfair way.

This is the reason why national and international media have denounced the many cases of relentless abuse, especially against illegal immigrants, which proves the unfair behavior of so many of ICE’s officers.

Minors and immigrant women are far more vulnerable. That is why sexual abuse accusations continue being made in ICE detention centers. This not only raises eyebrows, but makes many people wonder what ICE’s real intention is in regards to the immigrant community in the United States. Why are illegal aliens being treated this way? Is ICE really abusing its power?

ICE Detentions

What legal basis does ICE have to justify these arrests? Who approves and supports it? ICE obeys an “executive order” given by the Federal Government, orders that are ultimately brought about by the current president. The official excuse is the lack of compliance with the law.

Does the fact that ICE has a suspect list of illegal aliens mean that legal immigrants are safe when there are these raids? Not really. It is obviously not so easy for ICE to arrest people who are legal residents, but they will still arrest legal and illegal immigrants when there are raids..

Many people have decided to cooperate with ICE, but they have been arrested anyway. That is why it is very important that you avoid any contact with the agents because it usually leads to unexpected problems.

The truth of the matter is that every day ICE is looking for ways to deport more and more immigrants. In order to do that, the agency is writing letters to many families and obtained “final warnings” to leave the Unites States. These immigrants are obviously more likely to be arrested in these raids.

If you suspect that a relative has been detained, you can check here:

287 (g) Law today 

Even though there are many counties who have taken part in the 287 g program, whose policies has been enforced by the current administration, since 2017 many cases of police officers and sheriffs have refused to take part in this project because they consider the 287 g Law to be anti-immigration and racist.

However, stopping this controversial law is no longer likely, since during 2019 there has been a significant increase in the number of counties that have signed agreements with ICE. So, can we say that the Trump administration has succeeded? What role do deportations play in this process?

Experts in immigration topics and the way in which detentions have been made, have allowed to expose these policies that seek to increase deportations, and this goes beyond the goal of “security of the state”. In this way, president Trump does the opposite of what his predecessor, Barack Obama, did. During the Obama administration, he tried to reduced deportations, even of foreign citizens who have been convicted of felonies. 

The reality of 2019 is extremely harsh for immigrant communities all across the United States. Even when the 287 g Law hides behind the pretense of a need to process immigrants who have been convicted of felonies, far too many of these immigrants have unjustly arrested by means of this cooperation between ICE and every one of the participating counties.

It is very difficult for an immigrant to go through a situation such as this, maybe just as difficult as it is having to start a new life in a foreign country. The immigrant community keep being under constant pressure, and it seems as if the goal was to go even further and deport many more people.

Along with this program, there are many policies that seek to stop the increase of the immigrant community in the United States which, as time goes by, has become ever more vulnerable, and its members require qualified professionals that will help them avoid these problems.

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