Elections have consequences and, in the State of Georgia, a consequence of two local sheriff races could be a reduction in public safety. The only question is: How badly will the new sheriffs' policy changes affect community safety? Both newly elected sheriffs pledged to eliminate the 287(g) program — a program designed by Congress to enable trained local officers to enforce immigration laws under ICE supervision and to serve as a force multiplier for ICE, which lacks the personnel to address the large population of deportable criminal aliens encountered by local authorities. Trained officers are able to use ICE databases to determine the immigration status of inmates and initiate immigration charges under ICE supervision, eliminating the need for an ICE officer to be present at the jail. The program currently is used only in prisons and jails, and therefore involves only those criminal aliens who have already been arrested for a crime.
Newly elected Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor cancelled the law enforcement partnership on January 1.
- Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) accounted for 4,262 foreign-born encounters in FY 2020, 25.2 percent of all 287(g) encounters nationwide (16,903).
- GCSO has reported 57,911 foreign-born encounters since the inception of the program in FY 2009 through FY 2020.
New Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens has pledged to end the program within his first 100 days in office.
- Cobb County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) accounted for 1,097 foreign-born encounters in FY 2020, 6.5 percent of all 287(g) encounters nationwide.
- CCSO has reported 21,984 foreign-born encounters since the inception of the program in FY 2007 through FY 2020.
Nationally in 2020, the 287(g) program encountered approximately:
- 37 aliens convicted for homicide;
- 920 aliens convicted for assault;
- 1,261 convicted for dangerous drugs;
- 104 convicted for sex offenses/assaults;
- 377 convicted for obstructing police; and
- 190 convicted for weapons offenses.
Here are some examples of dangerous individuals who were taken off the streets in Gwinnett and Cobb Counties under 287(g):
- A citizen of Guatemala charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. The subject illegally reentered the United States on an unknown date and location after having been previously removed in 2012.
- A citizen of Mexico charged with rape and aggravated child molestation by sodomy with a prior conviction of counterfeiting. The subject illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously removed.
- A citizen of El Salvador charged with simple battery, disorderly conduct, no driver's license, and outstanding warrants for two counts of strongarm rape and strongarm sodomy-sexual assault. Previous convictions include concealed weapon carrying, inflicting corporal injury to spouse/cohabitant, aggravated DUI, DUI, and disorderly intoxication. The subject illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously removed twice.
- A citizen of Mexico arrested for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, trafficking in methamphetamine, and trafficking in cocaine. The subject entered the United States on an unknown date and location without inspection.
- A citizen of Jamaica sentenced to 10 years for a conviction of armed robbery, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, and possession of marijuana. The subject was last admitted into the United States as a conditional lawful resident.
Former Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway is quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying, "It [the 287(g) program] has saved people. I certainly think there have been fewer child molestations, rapes, murders, robberies."
These two programs in Georgia may be shut down, but there are still 72 other 287(g) programs across 21 states, including six others in Georgia. In addition, there are an additional 76 law enforcement agencies across 21 states that have Warrant Service Officer programs, a more limited version of 287(g) authority that enables them simply to hold criminal aliens pending transfer to ICE custody.
But criminal aliens travel just like everyone else, so eliminating a law enforcement program that works to remove criminals from these communities puts everyone at greater risk.