On Tuesday, Assemblywoman Selena Torres introduced a bill that would require law enforcement to collect and report data on the transfer of undocumented immigrants to federal custody through programs like the 287(g) agreement.
The 287(g) program allows the Department of Homeland Security to enter into voluntary agreements to authorize local law enforcement agencies to assist in immigration enforcement. In practice, police can detain non-U.S. citizens — even if only pulled over for a traffic stop — until Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) takes custody, which can lead to possible deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants.
Currently, ICE has 287(g) agreements with 78 law enforcement agencies in 20 states. Three agencies in Nevada participate in the program, Metro, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.
The bill, AB 376, would not limit any local law enforcement’s decision to participate in 287(g). Torres said the bill is meant to rebuild community trust while the program continues to exist.
“This legislation is not for us to end the 287(g) agreement,” said Torres. “This legislation does not do that in any capacity. This legislation merely asks for public and individual transparency when working under 287(g).”
As a result of the 287(g) agreement, Torres said immigrant communities have a “lack of faith in our law enforcement” and fear that any interaction with law enforcement — whether reporting a crime or cooperating with police—will result in detainment or deportation.
Data collected under the bill would be submitted to the Legislature and would include the total number of undocumented persons transferred, the reason for their arrest, the name of each federal agency to whose custody an undocumented person was transferred, and the cost of holding people.
Demographic data for those detained would be also be required, including country of origin, race, gender, age, marital status, primary language spoken by the detainee, and the number of dependent children in the household if provided.
“Every time they are pulled over for speeding they are worried that they could end up detained,” Torres said. “And this is a very prevalent fear in immigrant communities, and it is a fear for all of us because when these communities feel like they can’t report a crime our entire community is less safe.”
The UNLV Immigration Clinic, the Nevada Immigration Coalition, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, ACLU of Nevada, Nevada Hispanic Caucus, and the Washoe County Public Defender’s Office all spoke in support of the bill, arguing it would bring needed “transparency” to 287(g).
The Washoe County Sheriff’s office and the Metro Las Vegas Police Department oppose the measure.
Most opposition centered around the logistics of collecting the required data and creating a database to keep track of that information.
Torres dismissed those concerns saying that “our local government has a responsibility to be transparent about their data” and added that if the bill required resources to build a database for the collected data she would support that.
“As a taxpayer, I’m not comfortable with the secrecy of a program that we’re not able to get information out,” Torres said. “And as a Legislature, neither should we. We need access to this information.”