The 287(g) Program: A Flawed and Obsolete Method of Immigration Enforcement

Immigration Policy Center
Date of Publication: 
November, 2012
Source Organization: 
American Immigration Council

This fact sheet by the Immigration Policy Center provides an overview of how the 287(g) program works, as well as arguments raised by its critics.

Under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of Homeland Security may deputize selected state and local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents. Like employees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, so-called 287(g) officers have access to federal immigration databases, may interrogate and arrest noncitizens believed to have violated federal immigration laws and may lodge "detainers" against alleged noncitizens held in state or local custody.  

The program has attracted a wide range of critics since the first 287(g) agreement was signed more than 10 years ago. Among other concerns, opponents say the program lacks proper federal oversight, diverts resources from the investigation of local crimes and results in profiling of Latino residents—as was documented following the entry of a 287(g) agreement with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Following the nationwide expansion of the Secure Communities program, which has its own drawbacks but is operated exclusively by federal authorities, critics have also asked whether the 287(g) program continues to serve any law enforcement benefit.  

Get more from the Immigration Policy Center.

Download now or view online


Immigration Policy Center (2012). The 287(g) Program: A Flawed and Obsolete Method of Immigration Enforcement. Washington, D.C.: Immigration Policy Center. Retrieved from