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An Introduction to the 287(g) and Detention Bed Contracts

Below you will find a brief introduction to the 287(g) and detention bed contracts. This information was taken from Dr. Meghan Conley and Nathan Hilbert’s report, “Knox County’s 287(g) Program and Detention Bed Contract: Police-ICE Collaboration in the Knox County Jail Sept. 2017-May 2020.” For a more in-depth look at the contracts, how they interact, and how they operate in Knox County, you can read the report here.

What is 287(g)?

The 287(g) program is part of an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act added in 1996 through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. It allows “state and local law enforcement agencies to collaborate with federal immigration authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Through 287(g), ICE may enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with a state or local law enforcement agency to confer immigration enforcement authority, essentially deputizing officers to perform the duties of immigration officials. These duties may include identifying and interrogating unauthorized immigrants, serving immigration arrest warrants, detaining immigrants for civil immigration violations, and initiating removal (deportation) proceedings. Deputized officers are trained and supervised by ICE, but they are employed and salaried by state or local jurisdictions” (77). 


Knox County’s 287(g) agreement “allows designated corrections officers in the Knox County Jail to question people who are incarcerated in the jail about their immigration status, issue immigration detainers, and initiate removal proceedings” (77). Officers are not allowed to make immigration arrests or question people about their immigration status outside of the jail.

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2020 287(g) Contract

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What is the Detention Bed Contract?

The detention bed contract is a type of intergovernmental service agreement (IGSA) that allows county jails to “provide short-term bed space to ICE in exchange for some reimbursement for the costs of housing detainees” (77). 


The Knox County detention bed contract allows the Knox County Jail to hold immigrant detainees for up to 72 hours. “Once housed in the Knox County Jail, immigrant detainees are processed by 287(g)-designated KCSO corrections officers, who may initiate removal proceedings” (77). 

2019 Detention Bed Contract

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