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September 2, 2019

How the County Benefits from (287(g)

Jennifer Baker

While the 287(g) program is quickly becoming a hot button topic in Frederick County, few residents outside of political circles know what the program is – and or does.


The federal 287(g) program exists to determine the immigration status of men and women charged with a crime, but only when they enter the Frederick County Detention Center.


All alleged offenders of the law are asked what country they are a citizen of, and the country where they were born. If a person is a non-U.S. citizen, their name is then searched through an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database for any open detainers.


Open detainers function like an open warrant where a person’s name is searched through law enforcement’s network and, if an outstanding warrant or court issue detainers are noted, the person is then held for transfer to the law enforcement branch with the outstanding warrant or detainer.


The inmate being processed into the detention center under 287(g) has no increased cost to personnel as the name is simply searched in a database and notification given to ICE of a person in custody with an open detainer.


This would be the same process for a person being processed with an outstanding warrant in any other jurisdiction – state of county. They would still be taken into custody, and the jurisdiction with the outstanding warrant or detainer would be notified.


The 287(g) program allows Frederick County to get reimbursed by ICE for anyone held over on an outstanding detainer/warrant for the cost of the inmate’s stay at the Detention Center.


Each year the Sheriff Jenkins has returned millions of dollars to the county for use as the county executive and County Council decides. So, these reimbursements are not just held in the Sheriff’s Department or allocated strictly for even law enforcement.


In previous economic downturns, the reimbursements received through the 287(g) program helped provide county services for all residents without any increasing taxes on county residents.


The 287(g) program is not open ended and is audited yearly by ICE for compliance to the program guidelines.


Should any county in the 287(g) program have a credible complaint received by ICE the program will be discontinued by the federal government agency with no further action needed through lawsuits.


At present, no complaints against Frederick County’s program have been logged with ICE, and the program is in good standing with the agency.


When discussing the 287(g) program it is often conflated into many other issues.


At the core of the program is a simple reimbursement of county tax dollars for an inmate that would already be staying at the detention center.


No extra labor is involved as detention center personnel would already be processing the person involved, and a database search for any outstanding warrants would still be conducted.


Often, we let our feelings on an issue outweigh the facts of the issue being discussed.


Perhaps, with a better understanding of the 287(g) program Frederick County can have a more informed discussion on the program.


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