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Deputies trained to target illegal immigrants

Posted June 13, 2008

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— Area law enforcement agencies turned up the heat on illegal immigrants Friday, when dozens of deputies completed training on identifying illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

Eighteen Wake County deputies who work as detention officers at the county jail and 10 deputies from Cumberland County were among a class of 38 who graduated from an intensive four-week program to learn immigration and deportation law. The course was administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, under the so-called 287-G program.

Sheriffs have expressed frustration at not knowing whether someone charged with a crime was in the country illegally because they didn't have access to federal immigration databases. The uncertainty has led to several cases of an illegal immigrant being released from jail on one crime and subsequently committing a second crime.

"We have so many people that's coming into our country that we have no idea who they are," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole pushed for several North Carolina counties to be added to the 287-G program last fall, and she attended Friday's graduation ceremony.

"These are people who have self-identified themselves because of their criminal behavior," Dole said.

ICE has trained more than 700 officers nationwide through the program. Eight North Carolina law enforcement agencies now have certified officers – the most of any state – including the Durham Police Department and sheriff's offices in Alamance, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Gaston, Henderson, Mecklenburg and Wake counties.

Wake County has hired 12 deputies to help carry out the 287-G program, at an annual cost of about $540,000, as well as $90,000 in start-up costs.

In addition to determining the immigration status of people charged with crimes, trained deputies will begin the process to deport those people determined to be in the U.S. illegally.

Latino advocacy groups have complained the 287-G program is too far reaching and aggressive toward immigrants.

"It's going to undermine the relationships that all of our local law enforcement have been working on for many years with the Latino community," said Irene Godinez, director of advocacy for El Pueblo.

The 287-G program amounts to profiling, Godinez said, citing statistics from counties that already participate in the program, where most deportations result from traffic offenses and misdemeanors, not violent crimes.

"We're getting rid of people that are contributing to North Carolina and not those tough, violent criminals," she said.

Authorities admit the program won't solve the illegal immigration problem, but will provide them with a new tool to better identify the people they arrest.

"We are not here to ridicule or disparage people of other nationalities or countries but to protect and serve all people equally," said Lt. Raymond Rivera of the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

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  • Blueboxinggloves Jun 16, 2008

    "I just hope that they realize that just simply being here illegaly should not make a person a criminal!"
    What kind of reasoning is THAT? So, if a person breaks into another persons home but does not steal anything, they are not a criminal? Once here, many, many illegals obtain false documents so they can work. I suppose obtaining false documents like a fake S.S. card is not a crime either and still doesn't make them a criminal???

  • big dady Jun 13, 2008

    any illegal Mexican who is deported back free flight and less than 30 hours back to Raleigh. is a piece of cake to cross the border everyone knows throughout the world. and everything is political stuff

  • 1WakeCitizen Jun 13, 2008

    Curious T - you said it!!!!

  • FamMon Jun 13, 2008

    Put the pressure on Bush to put the pressure on Mexico, folks. I don't know if any of you have strayed off the vacation path into the more rural parts of the country. It's horrifying. I do not blame them for their desire to escape dire poverty and zero opportunity. However sympathetic I may be, I do resent their presence as illegals. But most of my animosity is directed to the Mexican goverment who is having their flan and eating it too.

  • FIGSSIT Jun 13, 2008

    In the time it takes to read this article around 1000 or more are crossing the border. We can never get them out or stop them from getting in. Too many. I say tax or fine them if they are illegal, when they file taxes they pay 3,000 dollars for being undocumented, oh wait they don't file taxes, darn.

  • 37 Jun 13, 2008

    They are processing illegal immigrants who commit crimes? Who can sympathize with the other side on this? Sorry, but they are ILLEGAL immigrants who have committed a crime. This is not a very flexible issue except in a country as welcoming of newcomers as the USA.

    Immigrants are great. They contribute to our nation every day. Illegal immigrants are by definition in violation of federal law.

  • parr4246 Jun 13, 2008

    glad Dole finally did something right by helping get this done ................

  • docclover Jun 13, 2008

    they need it here in edgecombe county. ha

  • DRA Jun 13, 2008

    crime or no crime if there not here legally then get them out of here enough is enough,,,,,,,,

  • njyankee007 Jun 13, 2008

    In a tough ecomomy, this is the best thing for NC. Let the citizens who want to work, have the ability too instead of hiring illegal undocumneted workers. If some one is here illegally, it is time to send them home and start focusing on the citizens.

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