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What is 287(g) program, and how does ICE use it to work with Maryland law enforcement?

As Anne Arundel County moves to part with a program that allows county jails to screen inmates for immigration infractions, other counties in Maryland would still continue to check inmates for violations.

Including Anne Arundel, there are three counties in Maryland that partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to screen inmates under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The program, created in 1996, uses local law enforcement agents to screen inmates for immigration violations.

Here’s what you need to know about how the program operates in Maryland.

How do 287(g) agreements work?

Under Section 287(g) in Maryland, ICE trains local law enforcement officers in federal immigration law so county jails can help find and report undocumented immigrants.

ICE covers the cost of training officers in areas including immigration law, interviewing techniques and databases.

Detention officers identify inmates who might be in the country illegally and launch a response with federal authorities.

Which jurisdictions in Maryland have 287(g) agreements?

Three counties in Maryland have agreements with ICE to enforce immigration law under Section 287(g): Anne Arundel, Frederick and Harford.

Frederick County’s agreement is the oldest in the state, dating to 2008. Harford County followed with an agreement with ICE in 2016. And Anne Arundel County’s agreement was forged in 2017.

A year after Anne Arundel County became the third jurisdiction in Maryland to add an agreement, new County Executive Steuart Pittman pledged to “kiss 287(g) goodbye” in his inauguration speech. The promise prompted the head of the county’s detention facilities to end the program less than a day later. Detention officers were told to immediately stop processing incoming inmates under the program.

Anne Arundel County is still listed as having a program on ICE’s website. The memo between ICE and the county requires a letter to officially end the 287(g) partnership. Pittman pledged to review the program before ending it.

What happens to inmates who are screened?

Data is submitted to ICE, and if a detainer is issued against the inmate, the facility can hold him or her until federal agents take custody.

What is the scope of 287(g) outside Maryland?

ICE partners with 78 law enforcement agencies in 20 states through the 287(g) program. Every jurisdiction listed on ICE’s website uses a jail enforcement model — similar to those in Maryland — in which existing inmates are screened. Section 287(g) also allows officers to question and arrest people they believe are not citizens and have violated federal immigration laws — but in Maryland, the program only applies to existing inmates.

What are the criticisms of 287(g)?

The program has stirred fears of racial profiling and worries among immigrant advocates that it will prevent immigrant communities from calling police in times of need.

What are the upsides?

Supporters of the program tout its ability to identify and remove immigrants with criminal backgrounds.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Chase Cook and Erika Butler contributed to this article.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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