Why are there speakers at every Cobb commission meeting opposing participation in a federal immigration law enforcement program?

It’s a good question, since the commission is not involved in the 287(g) program. It is under the purview of Sheriff Neil Warren, who recently announced continuing participation in the agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency known as ICE. Democrats, socialists and other leftists are engaged in a campaign to stamp out the ICE program by pressuring sheriffs into dropping out or refusing to participate.

It explains the local string of speeches against the ICE program at the Cobb BOC meetings. Last week’s speaker was Geovani Serrano who lives on Franklin Gateway in Marietta. He asserted that the 287(g) program “allows police officers to racially profile us,” but he did not identify “us.” He said the program “has also broken many families apart.” And he said, “We do believe in public safety — however, we want to have public safety that we can be secure with.”

The first problem for Serrano is that he went before the county commissioners and not Sheriff Warren. The BOC said it was not involved in Sheriff Warren’s actions concerning the program and the sheriff’s office is constitutionally mandated — which is correct, and the sheriff is therefore, not subject to oversight by the commissioners. The BOC rightly pointed out: “Any decision about participating in the 287(g) program would be the Sheriff’s alone.”

Sheriff Warren’s office in a statement to the MDJ said the program “promotes public safety and serves as a deterrent to criminal illegal aliens who avoid our county because they know if they are arrested ICE will be notified.” It’s worth noting that the program only applies to persons arrested and taken to the county adult detention facility. Decisions on deportations are not made by the sheriff’s office or any other local law enforcement official but by ICE and federal immigration judges. Since the 287(g) program began, there has been “a steady decline” in the number of foreign nationals taken to the county jail.

Such facts are irrelevant to the nationwide anti-ICE drive by the ACLU and other leftist organizations such as the Immigrant legal Resource Center whose advisory board includes Democrat Nancy Pelosi. This group’s message is the same as the local one alleging that the 287(g) agreements “lead to racial profiling, civil rights violations, isolation of immigrant communities, and family separations.” Thus, says this group, ending the agreements “is an essential first step to disentangling local law enforcement from ICE.”

The big push against the ICE program — targeting 287(g) agreements in effect in 90 jurisdictions across 20 states — has run into some high-profile resistance. In New York’s Rensselaer County, the only county in the state participating in the program, pro-ICE Sheriff Patrick Russo ran unopposed this year for a second four-year term and said he would renew the agreement when it expired this month. Russo made a telling point in responding to opponents of the program. “I do not see how removing illegal aliens with criminal records has any effect on public safety other than to make the community a safer place,” he said.

In North Carolina, Cabarrus County Sheriff Van Shaw was elected last year on a promise of continuing to work closely with ICE. He credits the 287(g) program for his county having some of the lowest violent and property crime rates in the state. But Shaw is one of only four sheriffs in the state participating in the ICE program which is embroiled in political controversy with Republicans trying to get a bill through the state legislature to require law enforcement officials to honor ICE detainer requests. Five North Carolina sheriffs, all Democrats, ended the program in their counties, some upon taking office after their election last year.

The anti-ICE campaign, locally and nationally, is part of the broader effort by Democrats, socialists and other leftists to prevent the enforcement of immigration laws and protect illegal immigrants. Where this campaign goes depends on what law enforcement officials with ICE agreements do and whether they can count on support from their constituencies.

In any event, now you know the rest of the story.


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