Three Democratic sheriffs in Georgia and South Carolina who have promised to cut ties with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) will soon take office.
All three sheriffs said during their campaigns they would end the long-standing 287 (g) agreements with ICE. The agreements, of which there are two types, are named after the section of the Immigration and Citizenship Act that created them.
The prison enforcement model enables local police officers to question individuals detained on state or local charges about their immigration status and process them for deportation by ICE. President Donald Trump developed the Warrant Service Officer model last May, which allows local ICE police officers to execute civilian immigration orders issued by ICE against arrests of unauthorized immigrants, even in places considered protected cities like New York City.
In Georgia, Democratic candidates and former police majors defeated Keybo Taylor and Craig Owens, Republican sheriffs. In Charleston County, South Carolina, Kristin Graziano defeated reigning Al Cannon, who had been sheriff since 1988.
“On the campaign trail, I listened to your needs for hours. They raised concerns about community inclusion, neighborhood security, the 287 (g) program and non-violent interaction with law enforcement officers, ”Taylor wrote in a letter to the Gwinnett Daily Post. “In the months ahead, my team and I will implement solid plans to address these concerns. My goal as your sheriff is to run an office that truly serves the needs of all voters in our county. "
Opponents of 287 (g) agreements include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Immigration Council, and the Southern Center for Human Rights, all of whom believe the agreements resulted in illegal racial profiles and civil rights violations while Scarce resources were diverted from traditional local law enforcement functions.
According to Vox, President Trump significantly expanded the program in the first few weeks of his tenure by order of the executive branch. The order allowed ICE to sign additional agreements with local law enforcement agencies. Last year alone, the agreements allowed local law enforcement agencies to detain nearly 25,000 immigrants.
Also, Paul Penzone, a Democratic sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, defeated a pro-ICE Republican to keep his seat. The county that has elected Penzone for a second term is the same where former sheriff Joe Arpaio targeted immigrants with arguably the country's most restrictive “show me your papers” law.
Ronald Newman, the ACLU's political director, told Vox that voters view immigration as a federal problem and do not want local police to divert resources to it.
“I think voters tend to view immigration as a federal matter and therefore often do not want their local police, which is focused on the public safety of everyone in the community, to be distracted from efforts to attract immigration agents .
"Ultimately, the local police should do their job, not the federal government's job, and we try to capitalize on that feeling when we do this work," Newman said.