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287g Agreements Unsafe for Our Communities
SCCADVASA is a statewide coalition of organizations providing intervention services to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault across the state. Our hope is for community in which prevention work is our focus—a commitment to prevent sexual and domestic violence from occurring in the first place—where we can center our work on the building of healthy relationship practices rather than the aftermath of violence. We believe that everyone has the right to live in a community where respect and trust form the core of relationships and fear has no place to thrive. It is from these core values, as victim advocates, that SCCADVASA opposes the implementation of 287(g) agreements.

287(g) agreements erode public trust. A number of studies conducted in areas where 287(g) are already in place show that officers and police chiefs alike experienced greater barriers to using community policing techniques.

In Davidson County, Tennessee, nearly two years after the implementation of their 287(g) program, researchers found that although Black residents were more likely to know the victim of a crime (49% of Blacks, 35% of Latinos), respondents of both races cited nearly the same level of discomfort (~40%) with law enforcement.  The cause and the result of that discomfort, however, were clear between the two groups. Latinos were far less likely to report a crime to the police. “42% [of Latinos] said that they knew of a crime that had not been reported to the police,” compared to just 4% of Black respondents, and, “when asked whether they would report a crime in the future, more than half (54%) of the respondents in the Latino community said they would choose not to call the police,” compared to 27% of Blacks.  Half of all Hispanic respondents cited “being ‘afraid,’” and one-third specifically mentioned “immigration issues” as a major reason they distrusted the police; not a single Black respondent cited either of these issues as reasons they might not call upon law enforcement for protection.  It is not unreasonable to draw a tie between these fears and the fact that 85% of Latinos knew “someone who had been deported after being arrested, compared to only 8% of Blacks.”

Immigrant communities already navigate reporting barriers, such as lack of shared language and differing views on gender roles. When compounded by fears of racial profiling and immigration scrutiny, even victims and witnesses with legal status are less likely to come forward.  Therefore, the fear that part of the community experiences—the possibility of being asked about immigration status—decreases victim reports, subjecting the larger community to greater risk of violent crimes.  
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the nation’s premier law enforcement association, has stated that “local police agencies depend on the cooperation of immigrants, legal and illegal, in solving all sorts of crimes and in the maintenance of public order. Without assurances that they will not be subject to an immigration investigation and possible deportation, many immigrants with critical information would not come forward, even when heinous crimes are committed against them or their families.”
287(g) agreements burden local law enforcement agencies without strengthening community safety. In Maricopa County, Arizona, the East Valley Tribune reported that demands for the Sheriff’s Department to respond to immigration concerns resulted in an inability to respond to life or death crisis calls; “two-thirds of patrol cars arrived late to the most serious calls for police assistance."  A delay of this magnitude puts all crime victims at higher risk of significant harm and even death.

Victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are at particular risk of repeated victimization in areas where 287(g) agreements are in place.  Abusers often use the threat of deportation—whether legitimate or exaggerated—to discourage their victim from reporting the crime committed against them. Abusers use the perception that victims’ rights are secondary to immigration enforcement as a coercive tool to keep their victims submissive.

287(g) agreements create redundancy that undercut the campaign against violent crime. Since 2013, all local jurisdictions in South Carolina have been sharing biometric data of detained criminals with the FBI and DHS. When fingerprint checks demonstrate that an individual who has been arrested is illegally present in the United States, ICE is already enabled to detain and remove that individual.  However, without the public trust that stimulates a culture of reporting and cooperating with law enforcement, criminals are less likely to be arrested, and are more likely to continue perpetrating violence against our community members.
Examples like Maricopa County and Los Angeles County demonstrate that 287(g) agreements take valuable resources away from crime victims at the local level, and allow the federal government to escape their rightful responsibility to enforce immigration law. Studies of communities closer to home—including Davidson County, Tennessee and Gaston County, North Carolina—show that a single law enforcement entity cannot simultaneously ask for cooperation and threaten deportation. The implementation of a 287(g) agreement is likely to result in deportation of illegally present individuals; it’s true, but the vast majority of these individuals will be detained following traffic violations and misdemeanors.  Meanwhile, true violent criminals will continue to intimidate their victims into silence, and our community will become no safer. 287(g) agreements undermine our values of public trust and public safety.

SCCADVASA stands in support of community policing efforts that lead to victim trust and public safety. Crime victims’ confidence that coming forward will lead to safety should be prioritized above ineffective lip service to border enforcement. We strongly condemn the implementation of new 287(g) agreements, while living in hope of successful, victim-centered collaboration with law enforcement officers in Charleston, Horry, Lexington, and York Counties.
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