The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) met its goal to expand the 287(g) program. The 287(g) program authorizes ICE to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to assist with enforcing immigration laws. The program expanded from 35 agreements in January 2017 to 150 as of September 2020.
However, GAO found that ICE has not established performance goals that cover all program activities, such as ICE’s oversight of its law enforcement agency (LEA) partners, or measures to assess the program’s performance, such as the percentage of LEA partners in compliance with annual training requirements.
ICE considers a number of factors, such as LEAs’ capability to act as an ICE force multiplier, when reviewing their suitability to join the program; however, ICE has not assessed how to optimize the use of its resources and program benefits to guide its recruitment of future 287(g) participants. For example, ICE has two models in which LEAs can participate with varying levels of immigration enforcement responsibilities. In the Jail Enforcement Model (JEM), designated state or local officers identify and process removable foreign nationals who have been arrested and booked into the LEA’s correctional facility, whereas in the Warrant Service Officer (WSO) model, the designated officers only serve warrants to such individuals. However, ICE has not assessed the mix of participants for each model that would address resource limitations, as each model has differing resource and oversight requirements. GAO said that by assessing how to leverage its program resources and optimize benefits received, ICE could approach recruitment more strategically and optimize program benefits.
ICE uses a number of mechanisms to oversee 287(g) JEM participants’ compliance with their agreements, such as conducting inspections and reviewing reported complaints. However, at the time of GAO’s review, ICE did not have an oversight mechanism for participants’ in the WSO model. For example, ICE did not have clear policies on 287(g) field supervisors’ oversight responsibilities or plan to conduct compliance inspections for WSO participants. An oversight mechanism could help ICE ensure that WSO participants comply with their 287(g) agreement and other relevant ICE policies and procedures.
GAO recommends that ICE establish performance goals and related performance measures; assess the 287(g) program’s composition to help leverage its resources and optimize program benefits; and develop and implement an oversight mechanism for the WSO model.
DHS concurred with the recommendations and stated that ICE is developing a 287(g) strategic plan that will outline the program’s goals, objectives, and performance measures. In addition, ICE is developing oversight mechanisms to monitor the programs.