Obama Administration Proposes to Cut 287(g) Funding

By Jessica M. Vaughan on February 13, 2012

The Obama administration intends to cut funding for the popular and effective 287(g) program, according to the DHS budget summary document just released today. If approved by Congress, this move would leave more than a dozen local agencies at the altar waiting for training programs promised by ICE.

The explanation is on page 101:

FY 2013 Major Decreases:
• Realignment and Reduction of 287(g)…………………………………..-$17.0M (-24 FTE)

This request reduces the 287(g) program as Secure Communities reaches nationwide
deployment in FY 2013. The Secure Communities screening process is more cost effective
in identifying and removing criminal aliens and other priority aliens than the officer-focused
287(g) model. Proposed funding reductions in FY 2013 will impact the 287(g) jurisdictions
with the lowest criminal identifications.

The Administration's claim that Secure Communities is more cost-effective than 287(g) is highly debatable. First of all, under 287(g) agreements, the local agencies are providing the personnel and computer hardware to screen and process the criminal aliens, at little to no cost to the federal government. Second, Secure Communities is less comprehensive and can identify only those aliens who have a recent record with ICE. According to my review of a jurisdiction that uses both simultaneously, the 287(g) officers find about twice the number of removable aliens than Secure Communities, and faster.

Not only that, 287(g) is much less of a catch-and-release program. According to internal ICE statistics, in 2010, 287(g) officers moved to deport 90 percent of the removable criminal aliens they identified. Under Secure Communities, the percentage was less than half.

As for cost, over its six-year lifespan, the 287(g) program has resulted in the removal of about the same number of illegal aliens as Secure Communities has – roughly 120,000. ICE does not publish detailed figures, but from what I have gleaned over the years, the entire lifetime cost of 287(g) is less than one year of Secure Communities, which runs about $150 million annually.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a big fan of Secure Communities, but it is not a substitute for 287(g). The fact that the Obama administration wants to starve it out of existence is proof positive of how well it works.