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Tulsa County Renews 287(g) Agreement with ICE

Matt Trotter

Tulsa County renewed on Tuesday its agreement with the federal government for the sheriff’s office to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation after they’ve been arrested.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 2–1 for the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) agreement. Commissioner Karen Keith voted against it.

Tulsa County’s previous agreement was set to expire in June. The new one is in effect until terminated by the sheriff or ICE.

Critics of the 287(g) program say it often catches otherwise hard-working immigrants on minor offenses. Sheriff Vic Regalado said he’s holding 48 jail inmates for possible deportation right now arrested on charges including murder and human trafficking.

"If all of you promise, OK, that if we get rid of 287(g), you take these individuals into your house and watch them until they come back to criminal court to face the serious charges that they’ve committed on the streets of Tulsa, then I’d be open to that," Regalado said.

Ted Bakamjian is with the coalition ACTION — Allied Communities of Tulsa Inspiring Our Neighborhoods. He said state law adequately addresses serious crimes immigrants might commit, making the program an overall detriment to public safety.

"People in our immigrant communities are less likely to report crimes because of this program, and the program loses money. ICE does not reimburse the county for the expense it goes to, to carry out 287(g)," Bakamjian said.

Bakamjian says 287(g) detainers also lead to longer stays in jail, creating a health hazard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to ICE, the agency has 134 287(g) agreements with U.S. law enforcement agencies, 77 of them with jail operators. In Oklahoma, Canadian and Okmulgee counties also have agreements with ICE.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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