Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren reiterated his support for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the United States’ southern border in an email Thursday in which he turned down an invitation to a White House roundtable on border security.
Warren had received the invite Wednesday to join state and local law enforcement and community leaders at the White House on Friday to discuss “the impact illegal immigration has on their communities including human trafficking, gang violence, and drug trafficking,” according to emails provided to the MDJ. The invitation came a day after the Cobb Sheriff’s Office made available an open letter Warren had sent on voicing his support for the border wall.
Despite being printed on Cobb Sheriff’s Office letterhead bearing his name and that of Chief Deputy Milton Beck, however, the letter was not written by the sheriff, a department spokesperson confirmed to the MDJ.
“We’ve been working with, and the sheriff has been talking to, the sheriff up in Bristol County, Massachusetts,” Cmdr. Robert Quigley said. “They sent out an email to other sheriffs saying, ‘Would you join us in sending this letter to us, and we’re going to send it to the White House to show our support for this effort?’ And so that’s what he did. It was sent up there and forwarded to the White House.”
Warren turned down the invitation to Friday’s discussion in Washington via email Thursday afternoon due to a prior commitment with Cobb County Special Olympics scheduled for Saturday morning, Quigley said. In his response to the invite, Warren said he was “honored to be included in the process.”
“With a county of over 700,000 residents and a 3,500-bed jail, my schedule is somewhat hard to adjust on short notice and this happens to be one of those times,” Warren wrote.
In his email, Warren did not specifically mention the president’s proposed border wall, but focused on his department’s partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, which gives local and state law enforcement agencies immigration enforcement powers. When it was implemented in 2007, the Cobb Sheriff’s Office was the first agency in the state to use it.
“During this time we have seen a large number of residents with questionable legal status come into our system that have then subsequently been transferred to ICE custody with the resulting effect being felt in several areas,” Warren wrote. “As you know, 287(g) enables our deputies to check the status of a suspect once a crime has been committed so the resulting impact has been to compel better behavior from those in the shadow of their questionable status and to be able to allow ICE to remove them once a determination of that illegal status has been made.”
The program has saved Cobb taxpayers “significant dollars,” as each night a person spends in the Cobb County Adult Detention Facility “comes with a price tag,” Warren added.
That cost, according to Quigley, averages $75 or $76 per inmate per night.
Warren, who has served as Cobb’s chief law enforcement officer since 2004, has been an outspoken critic of undocumented immigration. He was named one of America’s Top 10 anti-illegal immigration sheriffs in 2012 by Fox News, a recognition listed in Warren’s biography on the Cobb Sheriff’s Office website.
During his ultimately successful 2016 re-election bid, Warren responded in an election Q-and-A with the MDJ that the 287(g) program had that time had identified more than 10,200 persons “that were in our county jail on criminal charges that were also suspected of having no legal right to be in the United States.”
“These persons were turned over to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. These are accused criminals that targeted our community and there is no way I want them released back into our community to prey on others,” Warren said at the time.
In his email turning down the White House invitation Thursday, Warren concluded that 287(g) ultimately “helped to reduce the strain on our courts and many other taxpayer funded entities.”
“Enforcement works and the president is right to stand firm on getting this issue handled once and for all. The ‘can’ has been kicked down the road long enough!” he wrote. “Once again I am honored to be asked to enter this discussion and hope that my voice will help to encourage the administration to hold firm until the job is done.”