Currently, at the time of an arrest, local law enforcement agencies do not have the ability to determine if that person is an illegal immigrant. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security declared the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office as one of 11 law enforcement agencies in the nation to be able to receive this ability in the near future. Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon was hoping the 287 g program, that would take local officers through a 4-week training program that enforces immigration officer functions, would help.
“Local police officers, and for that matter, state police officers do not have the authority, except in some limited circumstances, to enforce federal law. This provision allowed the authority of federal immigration officers to be given, under certain conditions, to state and local officers,” says Cannon.
Cannon says the problem with the 287 g program, that is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996, is that officers have to arrest someone, get them in jail, and then contact ICE, in order to find out if that person is an illegal citizen. Cannon says 287 g is ineffective right now, because there’s not much communication between officers and ICE.
“We don’t have access to determine the status of every individual that’s arrested and brought in to the jail. In a jail, this 287 g program would give us that access on a routine basis,” says Cannon.
Right now, Cannon says they have to go through a longer process with ICE to determine the immigration status.
Cannon says by law, they are required to treat people in the same class equally. In this case, he says all non-citizens are to be treated the same, but some of them are not here illegally, already going through the certification process. Cannon says this isn’t right.
“We’ve got people coming to this country through the process that the law has set up, and we’re actually discouraging that because we’re making them go through it, and encouraging the other, which is people that are coming here illegally. And that goes against the very grain of everything I have stood for,” says Cannon.
Cannon says he believes the illegal immigration situation in the United States represents one of the greatest failures of the people voted into Washington.
He says he has no word yet on when the training program will begin, and who is going to pay for it.