Local Politics

Dole, Sheriffs Discuss Immigration Enforcement

Posted August 23, 2007 7:22 p.m. EDT

In a rare appearance in Raleigh, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said Thursday that she hopes to help local law enforcement authorities get a better handle on immigration.

Dole met with authorities like Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell to discuss ways for officers to identify illegal aliens more quickly when suspects are detained on criminal charges.

"We'll hopefully be able to facilitate and really get some solutions to resolving the bureaucratic issues and red tape issues, as well as more funding," Dole said.

She said she plans to work on accelerating a federal program to provide training for local authorities and to share more federal immigration data with states, counties and cities.

"We need to know who is legal and who is illegal. We're after the ones committing the crimes in our counties," Harrison said.

"We have a problem with illegals that are committing crimes – murder, rape, robbery, driving drunk, you name the crime, it's occurring. Enough's enough," Bizzell said.

Dole and the sheriffs said there are no plans to step up efforts by local authorities to round up illegal immigrants, only to root out those suspected of committing crimes.

Meanwhile, Dole also attended a fundraiser in Raleigh Thursday night.

Although many Democrats have said her Senate seat is vulnerable in the 2008 election, most high-profile Democrats have declined to run against her. Gov. Mike Easley, Attorney General Roy Cooper and 13th District Congressman Brad Miller are among those who have passed on the election.

Democrats considered possible candidates against her include state Reps. Grier Martin and Dan Blue of Wake County – Blue ran for Senate five years ago – Guilford County Sen. Kay Hagan, State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee and Raleigh lawyer David Kirby, the former law partner of presidential candidate John Edwards.

Political analysts said a lot of money and political guts will be needed to compete with Dole.

"(It has to be) someone who is willing to sort of gamble on this, who doesn't have to have a win here, who can put up a brave fight and use that in the future to propel their political career," said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.