Ron DeSantis’ Immigration Crackdown Could Prove Costly
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation and announced new actions related to immigration enforcement in the state. Among them is a policy that could impose a hefty financial burden on state taxpayers and reduce community trust toward police.
S.B. 1808 requires each law enforcement agency in Florida that operates a county detention facility to enter into an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under a so-called 287(g) agreement, state and local law enforcement officers are deputized by the Department of Homeland Security to carry out duties typically performed by federal agents. Those officers may interview people about their immigration status, detain individuals, transfer noncitizens to ICE custody, and initiate the removal process.
According to the Florida Policy Institute, 46 of the state’s 67 counties, as well as the state Department of Corrections and the city of Jacksonville, currently have 287(g) agreements. Counties with a detention facility that aren’t involved in a 287(g) agreement will now have to enter one.
State and local governments often pay dearly to implement 287(g) agreements, as they—rather than the federal government—are responsible for the majority of operating costs. Officer salaries, overtime pay, and supply expenses aren’t covered by ICE. States and localities also tend to foot most of the costs associated with detaining migrants.
State officials in Florida have so far provided few details on how localities will be paying for the expenses associated with new 287(g) partnerships. “We expect the cost to participate in the 287(g) program to be minimal and able to be absorbed within existing resources for entities that are not already participating in the 287(g) program,” DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw told Reason in a statement.
An analysis prepared by the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee in February was similarly vague: “The bill may have an indeterminate negative fiscal impact on a local government that provides funding to a law enforcement agency that is not currently participating in a 287(g) agreement by requiring the local government to expend funds enforcing immigration law in partnership with ICE.”
Costs may prove not to be minimal, judging by the experiences of other communities. The sheriff’s office in Arizona’s Maricopa County had a $1.3 million budget deficit in 2008 largely thanks to 287(g)-related overtime. Prince William County, Virginia, had to raise property taxes to pay the costs associated with its 287(g) agreement, which cost $6.4 million in its first year.
“Most of the counties in Florida are part of the 287(g) program,” says M
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