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Chatham residents decry county's immigration stance

Posted January 27, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Some Chatham County residents want officials to reconsider a recent decision against taking part in a federal program to identify illegal immigrants charged with crimes.

The Board of Commissioners voted three weeks ago to pass on an opportunity to participate in the federal 287(g) program administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under it, ICE agents give local law enforcement agencies access to federal immigration databases so they can identify illegal immigrants they have arrested on local charges. ICE trains officers how to initiate deportation cases against those people.

Residents fear Chatham will attract illegal immigrants Group: No 287(g) means more illegal immigrants

Wake, Cumberland and Alamance counties already participate in the program, and Orange County recently joined a separate ICE program called Secure Communities that doesn't include the deportation portion of 287(g).

"Chatham County will become a sanctuary county, and that is exactly what this resolution is telling illegal immigrants – 'Come to Chatham County because we are not going to enforce federal law,'" said Heather Johnson, spokeswoman for Chatham Conservative Voice, a grassroots organization in the county.

The county saw an estimated tenfold increase in Latino residents between 1990 and 2005 and now is home to one of the largest Latino populations in North Carolina.

In 2000, white supremacist David Duke spoke in Siler City about the Latino influx in the county. The event drew 75 participants, but hundreds of others observed from the sidelines.

Three years ago, one of the largest rallies in North Carolina in favor of legalizing undocumented workers also occurred in Siler City.

George Lucier, chairman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, said local officials do enforce the law, but they don't want to take on the federal job of immigration enforcement.

"For the federal government to say to local agencies who are not equipped to handle immigration issues, 'It's your problem,' is not right," Lucier said.

Participating in the 287(g) program also would have required the county to build a new jail, he said.

"Our choice is, do we want to build a new school or do (we) want to build a new jail, and our choice is we'd rather build a new school," he said.

Johnson said local residents didn't have any input before the board decided.

"My concern is over the lack of the transparency," she said. "(The decision is) not a view representative of the citizens of our county."

Lucier said the public had the same notification on the 287(g) resolution as it has of any other item that goes before commissioners. He also said about 70 percent of the e-mails he's gotten since the board took its stand have favored the decision.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • billy Jan 28, 2009

    Enforce the laws, or just fall into anarchy.
    All levels of government need to enforce these laws.
    Now over 20 million illegal aliens here.
    Some are stealing jobs from legal residents.
    The government shouldn't be allowing it.
    Enforce the laws.

  • lorivalentine1 Jan 28, 2009

    Round them (illegals) up and send them to chatham county.. Then when that county figures out how bad an issue it is we will know where to find them to ship them all home..
    I am all for raids.. I can give a few companies to start with..
    Good riddence to all who are here illegally.

  • determined2win Jan 28, 2009

    ignc73 - So the jobs you create are going to the extra-terrestrials that have moved into the area?

  • whatusay Jan 28, 2009

    "Just because something is a law, doesn't make it right or moral." says ignc73...

    ignc73 - try skipping paying your taxes for 2008 and see if our government thinks you are right. But, the illegals pay only SS tax, not state or fed, and they don't file income taxes.

  • whatusay Jan 28, 2009

    Educated, well informed people know the ill effects illegals are burdoning this country with. Those on welfare (who don't want to work) or those who never look at the news or read a news paper could care less. But, one day the welfare will be gone and they will have to work and compete with the illegal for a job, then their eyes will be opened. Illegals do not pay taxes and they do not file income tax returns. They know how to survive very well in this country and 10-12 share a small house and share expenses. They don't have driver licenses or insurance, but they drive. Our government will not allow us to do that because they know who and where we are. U.S. citizens in Mexico would be in jail for the same crimes our government over-look. The illegals are bringing everyone in this country down. We are the dopes paying for their education and health care while driving the costs of ours higher to make up the difference.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 28, 2009

    I create jobs.

    I see you are all talk. :)

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 28, 2009

    I create jobs. The jobs I create go to the best candidate.

    With that said, How about giving me a chance at your created jobs? Seriously.

  • likemenow Jan 28, 2009

    When the Federal program in charge of the ICE program decides to pay for the additional costs incurred by my county, then let's talk.

    and RE:"hence all of the ugly development in Chatham"..name one development here that is actually ugly....stop belittling those who may be more fortunate than yourself for once. The good-ole-boy network has seen time pass it by.

  • JohnB2012 Jan 28, 2009

    "Immigrants, whether illegal or not, contribute massively to our tax base and worker base. Kicking people out of the country because they didn't fill out a form is ridiculous."

    Massively? How do some 300,000 low skilled, low paid workers contribute massively to our tax base? They don't. There are many reports now showing they take more than they put in.

    "Kicking people out of the country because they didn't fill out a form is ridiculous."

    Are you serious?

  • ignc73 Jan 28, 2009

    imback: I don't have a job. I'm a business owner. I create jobs. The jobs I create go to the best candidate.