Local Politics

Chatham officials stay away from immigration policy forum

Posted February 26, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Chatham County commissioners did not attend a forum Thursday night on the county’s illegal immigration policy.

Commissioners have received threats following their recent decision not to take part in a federal program to identify illegal immigrants among those charged with other crimes.

Chatham County Courthouse Chatham forum held on illegal immigration policy

Chatham Conservative Voice hosted Thursday night’s meeting at Captain John's Dockside Seafood Restaurant in Chapel Hill. The group opposes the board’s vote last month to pass on an opportunity to participate in the federal 287(g) program administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Commissioners said they thought it was costly and ineffective.

Under the 287(g) program, ICE gives local law enforcement agencies access to federal immigration databases so they can identify illegal immigrants among defendants they have arrested on local charges. ICE also trains officers how to initiate deportation cases against those people.

Heather Johnson, of Chatham Conservative Voice, said the group does not have a position on the federal program – just on the message the resolution sends.

“If you are an illegal alien and commit a crime in Chatham County, you can cycle through the system and commit more crime,” Johnson said.

Commissioners Chairman George Lucier has said the 287(g) program is a bad move.

“Why would the Board of Commissioners want to take on a program that is costly, ineffective (and) increases the probability for racial profiling?” Lucier said.

Several weeks ago, Lucier agreed to attend the forum to discuss the resolution. In recent days, he decided not to attend.

“It has been taken over by outside interests,” Lucier said.

Groups from outside the county who support stronger laws against illegal immigration sent out fliers urging people to attend the forum. Some of the fliers equated illegal aliens to terrorists.

Deputies are also investigating possible threats against commissioners. Lucier said that after the board’s decision, he started getting e-mails with messages like, "Sleep soundly while you can!"

Lucier said the sheriff advised him not to attend Thursday’s meeting. Lucier said the sheriff and the head of the county’s Democratic Party also were asked to attend, but both declined.

Johnson said the Chatham Conservative Voice group denounces any threatening activity. She said she asked the groups that sent the fliers not to attend the forum.

Those who attended Thursday’s forum identified themselves as Chatham County residents.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • news4u Feb 27, 2009

    Who elected who in Chatham County?

  • whatusay Feb 27, 2009

    "I'd like to know how they get social services and other funds if they are here illegally. don't they have to prove they are legit? Utterly ridiculous that they get all these services and are illigals!" nod2004.....

    When an illegal has a baby in the U.S. that baby is automatically a registered democrat and a U.S. citizen and elegible for welfare for the rest of his/her life, and free medical care. All his illegal parents have to do is pick up the checks.

  • FragmentFour Feb 27, 2009

    Chatham County doesn't need to worry about "sending messages" to illegal immigrants - those folks don't give a rip one way or the other which country they're in and Chatham's residents have a vastly overblown sense of its importance.

    Threatening the commissioners though... the KKK is going strong in that area.

  • me2you Feb 27, 2009

    I'd like to know how they get social services and other funds if they are here illegally. don't they have to prove they are legit? Utterly ridiculous that they get all these services and are illigals!

  • ncguy Feb 27, 2009

    So an American citizen is scared of an illegal??

    That says it all.
    Will we ever have a politician that has some Kahungas?

  • showed up late Feb 27, 2009

    Spineless elected officials. They are bailing on the people who elected them, an all too familiar tune these days.

  • djbyrdnc Feb 27, 2009

    This is the reason we need to able to have a recall on elected leaders. George Lucier talks about the federal program is costly and ineffective. George what do you base that statement on, I know you have the facts to back up that statement. Someone needs to look at the extra cost for schools, hositals,and medical care. Lets find out the real cost and compare that to what the illegals pay. We can not look after our older US cizitens now with hosital and drugs cost.

  • tgw Feb 27, 2009


  • Justin T. Feb 27, 2009

    Whatusay said it all, "...severely punish employers who hire them."

    That really is the answer. Employers who want to participate in "21st century slavery" are the reason for the influx of illegal workers.

  • whatusay Feb 27, 2009

    Illegals are taking jobs away from NC citizens. They do not pay any taxes but they get welfare and free medical. Most drive, even though they do not have a drivers license nor insurance. NC would not be in this budget crunch if we were not supporting the millions of illegals who do not add anything to our economy. Need to severely punish employers who hire them.