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Chairman calls for sheriff to start immigration program

LAWRENCEVILLE - A political battle is brewing in Gwinnett over illegal

immigration.

Chairman Charles Bannister Friday called for Gwinnett's sheriff to train his

deputies to enforce immigration laws. He also asked the police chief to have

officers inquire about residency during an arrest.

"Gwinnett County has got to move the ball forward with the issue of illegal

immigration," Bannister said in a press release. He also called for revision

of the county's illegal immigration ordinance, which political opponent

Lorraine Green authored last summer.

The sheriff program, which has been implemented by Cobb County Sheriff Neil

Warren, would allow deputies to begin a deportation process for illegals in

the jail.

For years, two ICE officers have been assigned to Gwinnett's jail, deporting

300 in the past year. Sheriff Butch Conway said he does not have the

personnel to dedicate his own staffers to the job, and he isn't convinced

that the program would help any more than the current situation.

"When I have the personnel, I'll entertain it, if it shows that it will

deport any more people than now," Conway said. "This is the worst case of

political pandering I've ever seen."

Green wants to solve the sheriff's personnel issue by increasing deputy pay

to that of police officers. She said the move to give the departments'

parity - which is expected to happen Wednesday - hinges on Conway's

consideration of the ICE program.

"It was part of the agreement when we looked into parity," she said.