Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has trained more than 1,500 local and state authorities to "help enforce immigration law," ICE acting Director Ronald Vitiello said in Texas on Tuesday, according to his prepared remarks.
"Through 287(g) we have trained and certified more than 1,500 state and local officers to help enforce immigration law," Vitiello said at the 2019 Border Expo, referring to controversial 287(g) agreements through which local authorities are allowed to enforce immigration laws. Currently, local authorities with the agreements are only allowed to enforce immigration laws against people who are already incarcerated.
"We’re establishing new, stronger partnerships between [Enforcement and Removal Operations] and many state and local law enforcement agencies through 287(g) agreements that will train and empower them to enforce federal immigration laws," Vitiello added, saying that there is room for the number of people who are trained to "expand significantly" with more resources.
He praised the agreements, saying that there is "no downside" to them.
"These partnerships help minimize officer risk and maximize public safety," he said. "There’s really no downside to these agreements."
Critics of 287(g) agreements, such as the American Civil Liberties Union have argued that the programs result in civil rights violations, such as racial profiling, and divert resources from important police functions.
Vitiello said that in fiscal 2018, officers in the program arrested 160,000 people, including 105,000 who had at least one criminal conviction.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, he also said that ICE has released more than 108,000 asylum-seeking families into the U.S. over the past three months due to lack of space to hold them.
“In the last 90 days. ... ICE has released 108,500 family units in the U.S.,” he reportedly said.
The Border Patrol Expo is an annual conference on border security held in San Antonio.