Both the Albany and Rensselaer County Sheriff’s offices have applied to be part of a controversial U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program that would see local officers trained and authorized to detain suspected illegal immigrants.
The applications marshaled a quick response from local activists who have moved to pressure both offices to rescind their applications. The office of Albany Sheriff Craig Apple has since nixed its application. Apple told The Alt Weekly that he wasn’t aware of the training/deputization portion of the program.
“All I knew when we filed was that we were concerned with the detention portion of it,” said Apple. “I guess they can deputize officers but the detention portion is what got us interested. We have bunch of pens, cells where we would house arrestees. We were looking to house more because we have openings and everyone we house from outside would pay $119 a day. I thought, ‘It sounds great, it offsets costs in-house,’ but we had people concerned with the deputization portion, and I get it.”
President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier this year ordering the creation of more partnerships under the 287(g) program. Civil rights advocates have been alarmed by the application of the program since its adoption as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Some departments have used the program to justify massive immigration sweeps that violate the constitution. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one such offender.
The American Immigration Council issued a report in March of 2017 finding that, “In the past, the 287(g) program has been costly for localities, has not focused on serious criminals, and has harmed the relationship between police and local communities.”
In fact, a number of studies show that the program can be costly for localities.
The American Immigration Council Report found:
“ICE covers the cost of training deputized officers, but state and local governments have to pay the majority of costs associated with a 287(g) program including travel, housing, and per diem for officers during training; salaries; overtime; other personnel costs; and administrative supplies. Subject to the availability of funds, ICE may cover the costs of purchasing and maintaining technology, hardware, and software associated with the program. Some of the costs of detention may be reimbursed by the federal government through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). However, the federal government has never fully funded SCAAP, and reimbursements only cover a fraction of the costs spent by states and localities.”
Local advocates plan to increase pressure on Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick to drop his department’s application. We’ll have more on this story in the coming days.