GRAHAM, N.C. - Protesters raised their voices, and their concerns over an a local immigration enforcement program the Sheriff’s Office is trying to reinstate in Alamance County.
The program, 287(g), would allow deputies to carry out certain Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies, acting as federal immigrations agents.
Alamance County was part of it for five years, but that stopped in 2012 when the Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Sheriff Terry Johnson. That case was ultimately dismissed - and now, the Sheriff wants back in.
The Alamance County Sheriff's Office didn't have a comment today, but Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page says although his agency doesn't qualify right now, but he supports the program.
“If there is a person in our country illegally and is committed criminal offenses - we want to identify that person and not only prosecute, but at the appropriate time, through the process, have them removed from our country and returned back to their home country,” said Sheriff Page.
287(g) is a program through ICE, that would give some deputies powers that are normally only held by federal immigration agents. When an undocumented person comes to jail, and run through the system, the 287(g) authorization would give deputies the power to detain them, until ICE agents could pick them up, and possibly deport them.
If a department doesn't have a program, it can't detain someone because of the 4th Amendment, the right to due process.
Across the country, 78 departments are already a part of this, including six sheriff's offices in our state. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson wants back in, and applied last fall.
However, dozens in the community came out to oppose this, saying many had already suffered the last time this policy was in place.
“This is just another form of discrimination in a county that has a long history of racism,” said organizer Laura Garduno-Garcia.
“287 divides our community,” said Alamance County business owner Eric Henry, “We need to connect our community. The Hispanic population is an important part of our community and we need to find a way to build bridges, not walls.”
There's this petition out now from several business owners and people in the community for county leaders to block this, and vote against implementing the program.
There's also no word on when the Alamance County Sheriff's office will hear if it will get back in the program or not.
► Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WFMY News 2 App now