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Wake sheriff concerned that immigration system's like a revolving door

Posted July 27, 2012

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— Wake County's sheriff says he thinks the country's immigration system is like a revolving door – even when illegal immigrants are deported, he says, he's seeing them back in his jail.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office, in 2008, became one of first law enforcement agencies to participate in a government program, called 287(g), that authorizes local law officers to help enforce immigration laws. It also gives them access to federal databases to identify illegal immigrants who have been arrested on local charges.

Once identified, they are taken into custody by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which determines whether an individual should be deported.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison says that since 287(g) has been active in Wake County, the jail has processed more than 9,000 people on suspicions that they are in the United States illegally.

Of those individuals, approximately 5,000 have been referred to the federal immigration system.

"People understand that, if they get caught and come to jail – if they are illegal – they are going to get processed," Harrison said.

But he says that isn't necessarily a deterrent for them.

"We've looked at over 200-something that we've processed that have already come back through the system again," Harrison said. "So, sometimes, they know the penalty is light, and so what? They get slapped on the hand and keep going."

Harrison says that the number of illegal immigrants coming into the Wake County jail has remained about the same. Out of the 35,000 inmates each year, the number identified as being illegal immigrants has remained 10 to 15 percent.

Wake sheriff concerned that immigration system's like a revolving door Wake sheriff concerned that immigration system's like a revolving door

"Yes, the borders may be stronger than ever, but they're still getting here more than I'd like to see them come in," he said.

Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, admits that immigrants are returning, but she says the number is on the decline because it's getting more difficult for them to cross illegally in the country.

"We're seeing less and less of that," she said in a recent interview with WRAL News. "The border enforcement has never been as strong as it is right now. In fact, the number of illegal immigrants trying to get across the Southwest border, for example, hasn't been this low since 1971. "

She also gives credit to an information-sharing program called Secure Communities that jails across the country, including in Wake County, are participating in.

"If someone is arrested and their fingerprints are run, we simultaneously run them against the immigration database," she said. "If they are here illegally, we put what's called a detainer on them, so that they get released to us rather than inside the public at large."

ICE says that, through the program, nearly 4,000 convicted criminal aliens have been identified in North Carolina since 2008 but not necessarily deported.

Nationally, more than 147,000 convicted criminal aliens have been identified.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Reader X Jul 27, 2012

    Putting them into our prisons doesn't help much- our tax dollars pay for that.

  • linspace Jul 27, 2012

    If only 10-15% of the criminals are illegal aliens, then you need to look at the other 85-90% of home grown criminals and stop acting so holier than thou.

    And what liberal diatribe will you push out when we find that 80 percent of that 85-90 percent are a particular minority?

  • wildpig777 Jul 27, 2012

    sherriffs have zero bizness interjecting them selves into public policys---- law enforcement never knows its place...

  • linspace Jul 27, 2012

    We can all calm down.. another 4 years of Obama and this country will resemble Mexico and other third world nations economically.. the illegals will just stay at home.. there will be more opportunity there...

  • rdc42179 Jul 27, 2012

    Sheriff Harrison is one of the few who continues to do his job using common sense and integrity. He'll never make it in politics

  • Worland Jul 27, 2012

    I guess Monca failed history class. East Germany's wall and gun towers were used to keep people from escaping the left-wing Communist uptopia.

  • Just the facts mam Jul 27, 2012

    10 to 15 percent of inmates are illegal?? That is an outrageous amount!! Just another example of why current laws need to be enforced! And if current laws are not adequate, then make the punishment even more severe until those illegally in this country realize it would be better to leave than to stay and be punished!!!

  • airbornemonty Jul 27, 2012

    I would recommend ten years in prison at hard labor for every unauthorized visit.

    The first time, a free ticket back to their country. The second time, ten years in prison. The third time, twenty years in prison, etc.

  • Worland Jul 27, 2012

    Is the left-wing so far gone they see nothing wrong with 10-15% of criminals being illegal aliens? You have any idea how much damage they do? How many people they kill? How much it costs the tax payer every year to deal with illegals?

  • 411billy Jul 27, 2012

    They are not slow down coming over here it's just getting harder for them to get a public job so there for the american people have support them and pay to keep them healthy.