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What is 287(g)?

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added section 287(g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 287(g) authorizes the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, provided that the officers receive appropriate training and operate under the supervision of ICE officers.

In February 2006, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) entered into a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Customs Enforcement via the ICE Jail Model to identify individuals arrested in Mecklenburg County who are in the country illegally. The MCSO’s most recent Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) as a Jail Enforcement Model was signed on February 28, 2017 and will expire June 30, 2019.

The MOA defines the scope and limitations of the delegation of authority and is signed by the Executive Associate Director of Enforcement & Removal Operations, or his delegate, and the Sheriff. ICE retains sole discretion in determining how it will manage its detention resources and advance its mission. The MCSO is expected to pursue to completion all criminal charges that caused the alien to be taken into custody and over which the MCSO has jurisdiction. Subject to its civil immigration enforcement priorities, ICE will assume custody of an alien for purposes of removal, only after said individual has been released from the MCSO custody. By signing the MOA, the MCSO agrees to use its 287(g) authority in a manner consistent with ICE’s civil immigration enforcement priorities.

Eight (8) MCSO Deputies are assigned to the Arrest Processing Center (APC) and in addition to their assigned shift duties, they also conduct 287(g) functions as outlined in the MOA. ICE provides the MCSO with all the resources to carry out the 287(g) duties. All 287(g) delegated authority training and refresher training, which includes housing and meals, are paid for by the Department of Homeland Security. The technology and equipment used to conduct 287(g) delegated authority is provided by ICE.

The Process
  1. The Encounter:
    • The MCSO has not and will not engage in any type of immigration enforcement outside of the detention facilities.
    • An individual will only come into contact with 287(g) if a law enforcement officer with jurisdiction presents an individual to the MCSO Arrest Processing Center (APC) for a criminal offense, as permitted in accordance with NC General Statute.
    • As outlined in the ICE Jail Model 287(g) MOA, deputies only perform duties of an ICE 287(g) officer inside of the MCSO APC, per the agreement with ICE.
  2. Determining Alienage:
    • Everyone who is arrested and processed through APC is asked the same two questions
      1. What country are you a citizen or a national of?
      2. Where were you born?
    • If an arrestee is found to be a United States (US) Citizen, the individual will commence through arrest processing for state charges, without being interviewed by 287(g).
    • If the arrestee is found to be in the US lawfully, but not a US citizen, and the criminal charge or criminal history would change his/her immigration status, that individual may be held for an additional interview.
    • All persons found to be in US illegally, unlawfully, or undocumented will be interviewed by a 287(g) Deputy.
  3. IDENT:
    • IDENT is a federal biometric system or database that verifies the identity by fingerprint of those that are encountered by immigration personnel, including biometrics taken in processing for benefits within US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and encounters involving removal processing.
    • This database is utilized by immigration officers including: Border Patrol Agents, Customs and Border Protection, ICE, etc.
    • This system allows the MCSO to positively identify those who enter APC and are not citizens of the US that have had previous contact with immigration agencies and biometrics were recorded.
  4. The Removal Process:
    • Upon adjudication of the local charges, which is solely at the discretion of a judicial official, the following may take place:
      1. Juveniles (less than 18 years of age) are released to a blood relative/immediate family member and given an immigration court date.
      2. Individuals that are primary caregivers of minor children are also released with an immigration court date, so that the individual may return home to continue this care.
      3. Females who are pregnant or who are currently breastfeeding are given an immigration court date based on federal law, covered in Title 8, and only applies to those solely in immigration custody.
      4. Any alien convicted of a felony with a sentence of more than one (1) year or with any drug trafficking convictions, is an immigration fugitive, or anyone charged with illegal re-entry after deportation are always taken into custody, and have no right to an immigration court hearing.

    Only Immigration Judges have the authority to order an individual deported. The MCSO does NOT make any decisions on removal or deportation.

Why does MCSO participate in the 287(g) program?

Two of our agency objectives are to protect the citizens of Mecklenburg County and to operate secure and professional rehabilitative detention facilities. To operate secure detention facilities it is imperative that all individuals booked into custody are positively identified. Positive identification ensures proper classification of inmates for the safety of both inmates and our detention professionals. Participation in the 287(g) program, with access to the IDENT database, assists the MCSO with accomplishing the objectives mentioned above.

North Carolina state laws regarding immigration:

NC General Statutes:

162-62. Legal status of prisoners.

  1. When any person charged with a felony or an impaired driving offense is confined for any period in a county jail, local confinement facility, district confinement facility, or satellite jail/work release unit, the administrator or other person in charge of the facility shall attempt to determine if the prisoner is a legal resident of the United States by an inquiry of the prisoner, or by examination of any relevant documents, or both.

  2. If the administrator or other person in charge of the facility is unable to determine if that prisoner is a legal resident or citizen of the United States or its territories, the administrator or other person in charge of the facility holding the prisoner, where possible, shall make a query of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States Department of Homeland Security. If the prisoner has not been lawfully admitted to the United States, the United States Department of Homeland Security will have been notified of the prisoner's status and confinement at the facility by its receipt of the query from the facility.

  3. Nothing in this section shall be construed to deny bond to a prisoner or to prevent a prisoner from being released from confinement when that prisoner is otherwise eligible for release.
153A-145.5 Adoption of sanctuary ordinances prohibited:
  1. No county may have in effect any policy, ordinance, or procedure that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.

  2. No county shall do any of the following related to information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual:
    1. Prohibit law enforcement officials or agencies from gathering such information.
    2. Direct law enforcement officials or agencies not to gather such information.
    3. Prohibit the communication of such information to federal law enforcement agencies.

FY17 Jail Admissions with 287(g) holds and state charges

FY17 Jail Admissions with 287(g) holds and state charges

Country list since inception

Country List Since Inception

MCSO ICE Report: Last updated 4/30/2018

MCSO ICE Report: Last updated 4/30/2018

For more information regarding Immigration Customs Enforcements:


DHS/Detention & Removal Office
6130 Tyvola Centre Drive - Room 209
Charlotte, NC 704-672-6990
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