U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) asked the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General to review whether the Frederick County Sheriff’s office should be holding public steering committee meetings as part of its 287(g) program with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 287(g) program provides training for sheriff’s deputies by ICE. Within the program, deputies can ask about the immigration status of anyone booked into the county’s adult detention center, and begin deportation proceedings if necessary.
Trone sent a letter Aug. 30 to Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, citing a March 2010 report from that office which deemed “steering committee meetings are a necessary component of 287(g) agreements,” according to the letter.
According to that report, the Inspector General recommended that 287(g) program sites should “maintain steering committees with external stakeholders, with a focus on ensuring compliance with the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement).”
The current MOA between ICE and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office about the 287(g) program was renewed earlier this year, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said.
That one-year extension didn’t change any language from the 2016 agreement, Jenkins added.
That agreement states that the sheriff’s office “will, as necessary, engage in Steering Committee meetings and may engage in other community outreach with individuals and organizations expressing an interest” in the MOA.
It also states the sheriff’s office and ICE’s field office in Baltimore should hold annual meetings to ensure sheriff’s deputies involved with the 287(g) program are complying with the MOA.
Jenkins defended his decision to cancel this year’s steering committee meeting, citing “just cause” due to committee meetings being unproductive in the past.
He said he read Trone’s letter to the Inspector General Thursday, and spoke with one of his staff members about seven to 10 days ago about the 287(g) program. He called the letter a “political” move, and was concerned about its overall intent.
“The larger question is why does a congressman representing the constituents of his district … how does he justify opposing a program that enforces the law?” Jenkins said. “Do you think he would have taken his time to write this letter if it wasn’t political?”
Hannah Muldavin, a spokeswoman for Trone, said in an email that the congressman sent a letter to the Inspector General in response to hearing from multiple constituents about the lack of public steering committee meetings associated with the 287(g) program.
“In his oversight capacity as a member of Congress, Congressman Trone sent a letter to the Inspector General to inquire about the status of these meetings and to ask under what circumstances the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is required to conduct these meetings,” Muldavin said in a prepared statement.
Maj. Michael Cronise, who works in the sheriff’s office at the county’s adult detention center, declined to comment on the letter because he hadn’t seen it, but also confirmed the MOA had been renewed earlier this year.
Craig Fohl, an assistant field office director in ICE’s Baltimore office, deferred comment to ICE spokeswoman Kate Pote. Pote did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
It’s unclear how long it will take Cuffari’s office to review the letter and make any recommendations, or take any action. His press office did not respond to multiple phone calls or emails for comment Thursday.
Muldavin said Trone and his staff don’t know how long it will take Cuffari’s office to review the letter and take any action.