Friday, March 21, 2008
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Gwinnett Daily Post
I call on Sheriff Butch Conway and Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charles Bannister to stop their squabbling and implement the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program.
I am tired of Sheriff Conway using this program as hostage in his attempts to inflate his budget, if this is his intent. I am also weary of Commissioner Bannister's demands that this program be "taken out of hide" because that stance is not feasible and reeks of cheap politics.
Sheriff Conway's current budget most certainly will not fully support 287(g). Receiving federal approval and support of 287(g) requires various agreements with the Department of Homeland Security, appropriate training of designated officers and certain jail standards. Designated officers will work under the supervision of ICE personnel while conducting immigration enforcement activities.
In other words, Bannister is wrong if he thinks it's as simple as appointing a few officers this special duty as an additional duty to be done in their spare time.
Yes, it will cost Sheriff Conway a fair amount of his budget to participate in this program, but the savings to Gwinnett County residents will be substantial. If implementation of this program will help discourage illegal aliens from living in Gwinnett County and overloading our medical facilities, schools, jails and court system, then the investment of a few million dollars would be an excellent investment. Our streets would certainly be safer.
I strongly request that Commissioner Bannister immediately fully fund the 287(g) program and stop his political peacock posturing. I also urge Sheriff Conway to ensure that he spends all of his budget wisely.
Both Conway and Bannister need to stop arguing and protect us Gwinnett citizens. If Cobb, Hall and Whitfield counties can embrace this program, then why can't Gwinnett?