Editor’s note: The Gwinnett county 287 g program was extended to 2020 late Tuesday afternoon. 

“It’s my responsibility to assist the federal government in identifying illegal aliens committing crimes in Gwinnett County,” Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway on the 287(g) agreement with ICE

With the corporate-donor dollars on the anti-enforcement side, the war on immigration enforcement is raging in Georgia. It is not at all clear who will prevail.

Inger Eberhart

In question this month is the federal program that allows two local jails to locate and hold illegal aliens captured for additional crimes here in Georgia.

Sheriff Butch Conway’s Office has had an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement since 2009 in which specially trained deputies can act as immigration agents under the supervision of ICE officials. Such agreements are allowed under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

All known aliens are screened using the database provided by ICE to determine immigration status and the illegal aliens are then reported to ICE.

In 2007, Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren was the first in the state to have his jail become 287(g) approved. Both sheriffs report significant success in not only turning over criminal aliens to ICE for deportation, but in reducing the overall jail population. The 287(g) program acts as a deterrent to many illegals who are carefully considering where to take up residence.

Both sheriffs’ agreements with ICE on the 287(g) program are scheduled to expire next month unless the arrangements are extended or renewed. And both sheriffs report that they have captured murderers, kidnappers, rapists and child molesters who were found to be in the country illegally. In a different time, one would assume that nobody would have a problem with the federal authorities receiving help from local jails. Those times are long gone.

In today’s Georgia, identity politics groups oppose the added 287(g) enforcement with the ever-present but mindless talking point that it somehow makes the community less safe. The idea is that it is better to leave criminal aliens in the Georgia community than to risk “separating families.”

It is easy to describe the various opponents of enforcement as “the usual suspects, but we think it educational to name some names – the Latin American Association for example.” David Schafer serves as ‘Managing Director of Advocacy’ for the LAA. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘What’s good for our community,’ ” Schafer told the Gwinnett Daily Post in 2016, the last time Sheriff Conway’s 287(g) agreement was renewed. “Is it better to work with communities in terms of helping them build confidence to report crimes? And how much good does it do us to be taking parents out of families when we’ve got a situation where these families are already struggling to make a living when we’re effectively taking the wage earner out of the home?”

The list of anti-287(g) activists goes on to include the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) that has organized lobbying against immigration enforcement since 2003 – including for the eleven years that State Court Judge and current candidate for a governor’s appointment to the DeKalb Superior Court, Dax Lopez served as board member and fund raiser.

GALEO’s current action alert against Gwinnett’s extension of the lifesaving 287(g) program includes a quote that exposes other partners in the war against enforcement:

Let’s work together against 287(g) in Gwinnett!

The campaign to get ICE Out of Gwinnett is a group of concerned individuals from Gwinnett County to end the 287(g) program. The campaign is led by Asian American’s Advancing Justice – Atlanta, other organizations, and community members.  GALEO is proud to partner in these efforts.  To sign on to support getting ICE out of Gwinnett, please sign up here.

These examples are in addition to the “Twitter Storm” campaign to pressure the county commissioners in both Gwinnett and Cobb to oppose extensions of the respective 287(g) agreements staged on Monday by the ‘Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.’

Pro-enforcement Georgians should make their voices heard – the outcome of the war on enforcement is in doubt.

Inger Eberhart lives in Canton, GA and is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Dustin Inman Society. Her columns have appeared in newspapers and magazines; she has appeared on television and radio.

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