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Chatham board reverses immigration policy

Posted June 6, 2011
Updated June 7, 2011

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— Two years after Chatham County officials decided not to participate in a federal program to identify illegal immigrants charged with crimes, the county on Monday reversed that stance.

The county Board of Commissioners voted in January 2009 to discourage local law enforcement agencies from taking part in the federal 287(g) program administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Under the program, ICE agents give law enforcement agencies access to federal immigration databases so they can identify illegal immigrants arrested on local charges. ICE also trains officers how to initiate deportation cases against those people.

Brian Bock, the new chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said the 2009 resolution sent a message that laws wouldn't be enforced in the county. The sheriff should decide how to best enforce the law, he said, and those decisions shouldn't be limited by elected officials.

"It has nothing to do with legal immigration. It's (that) we want our laws enforced in all areas, and that would include areas of illegal immigration," Bock said.

The board voted 4-1 to scrap the resolution.

The previous Board of Commissioners members defended the resolution at the time by saying the county shouldn't enforce federal laws and noting that the program would have required them to build a new county jail.

Some of the commissioners received threats after the 2009 vote, and activist groups said not participating in 287(g) would turn the county into a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

Chatham County immigration policy, 287(g) Chatham board eyes change to immigration policy

"This is part an anti-immigration agenda," said Ilana Dubester, a former member of the county Human Relations Commission, which pushed for commissioners to take a stand against 287(g).

"We wanted to send a message to the community that it's safe to report crime," said Dubester, who has worked for years to build a relationship between Latino residents and law enforcement in Chatham County. "Do call police, yes, collaborate."

Latinos are the fastest-growing group in Chatham County, and about one-eighth of the county's population is Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Bock said rescinding the 2009 resolution isn't a push to bring 287(g) to Chatham County.

"287(g) is not practical in this county. We don't have the jail space. We don't have the budget for it," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • superman Jun 7, 2011

    Dont have the jail space. Dont arrest anyone. Eliminate law enforement in the country. No point arresting people if you cant put them in jail. Or just that apply to the illegals? Regular tax paying citizens are the only ones that can stay at the jail?

  • cantstandya Jun 7, 2011

    Don't have the jail space. Thats a weak argument,fact is they depend on that,knowing they are going to run at will just makes it more appealing to others to do the same,come here illegally with no threat of getting caught,this mind set is spreading and will only be to their advantage,if we can't stop them then we must have much harsher punishment for those that hire or aid them,cut off all social programs,medicaid is widely overused and is a drawing card for them we are in a situation that will require any and all means of exposing and deporting those that are here and verifying the legitamacy of those that have documents that the paper trail just does not fit the person who is using it,why else do we even have a branch of government that is supposed to be controlling this if they refuse to enforce our laws,how did North Carolina end up with 800,000 immigrants in such a short time the legal status of those if legal should be documented since there is only so many ways to become a citiz

  • bill0 Jun 7, 2011

    "You don't enforce the law because you don't have the jail space. Then what?"

    I hate to break it to you, but that is how all police work goes. Every city has their set of priorities and devotes their funds to those. You don't honestly think that police departments should devote the same resources to finding someone stealing cable as they do to finding a murderer, do you? Both are illegal, right?

    Most cities don't devote resources to finding illegal immigrants because it costs a lot of money and doesn't have much practical effect on public safety. At most, cities generally check immigration status of those actually convicted or those accused of serious crimes.

  • cantstandya Jun 7, 2011

    They are law breakers so do what we did in the service,fence a compound treat them as POW's,when you feed them they can eat military type rations I'm sure we still have an abundence of those then,impound whatever they have that would cover the cost of tranporting them and be done with it,trying to be so humane is a nice thought but when word gets around on the means in which they will be treated the thought of not being here legally will put a halt to this migration,they have no consideration for our laws and no other country tolerates this problem as we do,it's time to get tuff,and the ACLU can only defend that which is in question and illegal entry is just that illegal and any court in this land has to back that law.

  • truth9806 Jun 7, 2011

    Wow, common sense in Chatham Co.

  • grimreaper Jun 7, 2011

    "This is part an anti-immigration agenda,"

    Yes. And that is exactly what we need. We need exactly ZERO immigration of any kind and certainly don't need illegal immigrants of any sort. Period. Illegal immigration is a felony under federal law and anyone who thinks that federal law should not be enforced is simply idiotic and on their own special agenda...

  • Just the facts mam Jun 7, 2011

    Great news!!!

  • lprop Jun 7, 2011

    You don't enforce the law because you don't have the jail space.
    Then what?
    I will read it again to be sure that I read it correctly.

  • cantstandya Jun 7, 2011

    Keep an eye on the politicians that are in favor of amnesty or looking the other way when it comes enforcing policies that are and have been in place it is a small number of people overall that make up the laws of many yet they profit from letting illegals enter into our society unchecked either from votes that are questionable or by the them letting the businesses that hire them go on without being subject to criminal charges,they have use of our social programs that has cost this country billions yet that subject is avoided by many politicians when confronted due to political fallout from groups who have sprouted up and by illegals at that across this nation, our lack of action is how they are able to accelerate their influence,e-mail your State represenatives if they don't repond then replace them next election with those that will act.

  • readme Jun 7, 2011

    What great news!