How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Complex rules govern LA Sheriff's Dept. partnership with ICE, triggering criticism

LA Supes Protest 287G

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Protesters turned their backs on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to show disapproval of a motion to renew what's known as 287(g), a controversial partnership between the county Sheriff's Department and federal immigration officials that lets trained deputies screen convicted inmates for immigration status in the jails. While county officials say the new agreement approved last week is intended to focus on more serious offenders, critics are skeptical.

Now that the Los Angeles County board of supervisors has voted to renew a controversial federal-local immigration enforcement partnership known as 287(g), Sheriff's Department officials say they'll focus on identifying and detaining only immigrant jail inmates who were convicted of felonies and serious crimes.

But the rules governing who gets identified and turned over to federal agents for deportation haven't always been well defined. Some critics say they still aren't, and misconceptions abound.

Since 2005, the 287(g) program has allowed trained deputies to perform immigration enforcement duties in local jails. Convicted inmates are checked for immigration status. Before their release; those deemed deportable are turned over to immigration officials once their time is served.

L.A. County Sheriff's officials say the new contract approved last week reflects their current policy: As of the start of this year, they say they've limited their scope to immigrants who can be detained under the Trust Act, a new state law that restricts deportation holds to only those who have committed violent crimes, along with a few specified nonviolent offenders.

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In immigration news: LA County renews 287(g) contract with ICE, Asian American voters, unidentified migrants, more

ICE Holds Immigrants At Adelanto Detention Facility

John Moore/Getty Images

Immigrants prepare to be unshackled at the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013 in Adelanto, California. Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to stick with a controversial federal-local immigration enforcement program known as 287(g), which allows trained deputies to screen inmates' immigration status in local jails.

LA County Supes renew controversial partnership between Sheriff's Dept. and ICE - Southern California Public Radio The Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to stick with a controversial federal-local immigration enforcement program known as 287(g), which allows trained deputies to screen inmates' immigration status in local jails. Los Angeles one of just two counties in the state to still use the program, and one of a relative handful in the country.

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LA County Supes renew controversial partnership between Sheriff's Dept. and ICE

Undocumented Immigrants To U.S. Repatriated To Guatemala

John Moore/Getty Images

Supporters of the federal-local enforcement partnership known as in 287(g) in L.A. County jails say the program can identify deportable inmates that that Secure Communities might miss - and that this helps with the cost of incarcerating them, as the county gets partially reimbursed for jailing foreign-born criminals.

LA Supes Protest 287G

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Protesters turned their backs on the LA County Board of Supervisors to show disapproval of a motion to renew a controversial partnership between the LA County Sheriff's Department and federal immigration officials.

287G LA Supes Vote

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Michael Antonovich (pictured) joined Don Knabe voting in favor of renewing the 287(g) program. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky abstained.


The Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to stick with a controversial federal-local immigration enforcement program known as 287(g), making Los Angeles one of just two counties in the state to still use it — and one of a relative handful in the country.

Supervisors Gloria Molina, Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe voted in favor of renewing the program. Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky abstained.  

Dozens of people commented before the vote, virtually all of them speaking against the 287(g) program. At one point, protesters turned their backs on the supervisors, to show their disapproval of the county's partnership with federal immigration officials.

Named for a section of the immigration law that authorizes it, 287(g) essentially deputizes county cops to perform immigration enforcement tasks. It's been used by the Sheriff’s Department in local jails since 2005, with deputies trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to screen convicted inmates in the jail system for their immigration status.

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