GAO Discusses ICE’s Planning and Oversight Over State and Local Agreements

GAO Discusses ICE’s Planning and Oversight Over State and Local Agreements

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on February 26, 2021, released a report discussing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts and objectives in expanding the 287(g) program. The watchdog Congressional office also issued three recommendations to ICE to address various oversight and performance issues.

As background, the 287(g) program allows ICE to establish agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies for their assistance in enforcing federal immigration law. A law enforcement agency (LEA) can join forces with ICE under two models with different levels of immigration enforcement duties. Over a span of more than three years, the 287(g) program grew from 35 agreements to 150 agreements, as of September 2020.

The GAO report determined that the ICE program is currently functioning without goals or measures to evaluate its activities and the performance of partner agreements. The report noted the lack of metrics, such as how many LEAs are following training requirements. The watchdog recommended that ICE identify performance goals and related measures, and evaluate the 287(g) program’s makeup to best realize potential benefits and use of resources.

The third recommendation involved one of the models of enforcement duties. It called for the development and implementation of an oversight system for the Warrant Service Officer model. The model involves state or local authorities serving warrants to removable foreign nationals who are being held in a LEA’s correctional facility.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreed to follow the recommendations, stating that ICE is formulating a 287(g) strategic plan that encompasses the program’s objectives and performance measures. ICE is also creating mechanisms for better oversight of the program.