The event was an opportunity to share our perspective about the 287(g) program, listen to the concerns of our community and dispel any misinformation residents of our community may have about this important program.

Our Public Information Officer represented our Office and a representative from I.C.E. spoke on their behalf. Commissioner Fosque required we provide a third panelist, so Mr. D.A. King was added to the discussion because of his thorough understanding and support of the 287(g) program, along with his experience in helping create immigration laws in Georgia. He participated as an independent subject matter expert, not an “official representative” of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. King showed professionalism and restraint during the meeting, which sadly turned from the desired information-sharing forum to unfair and unwarranted name calling and misleading innuendo.

The loudest voices are heard until an educated voice speaks, so it’s imperative that we take every opportunity to fully explain the facts of this program to allow all Gwinnett residents to make an educated decision whether or not to support it.

Contrary to what you may have heard, this program has nothing to do with immigrants or checking immigrant status. It’s about criminals committing crimes in Gwinnett County. Our specially trained deputies can only screen arrestees for their immigration status after they are charged with a crime and brought to our jail.

It’s important to understand that law enforcement services are equally available to everyone in Gwinnett County, regardless of immigration status. Local law enforcement officers have no authority over anyone’s immigration status in our community, despite efforts by some to make law abiding people think otherwise. There is truly no reason for anyone to fear this program, unless they’re committing crimes in our community as illegal aliens.

I strongly believe the 287(g) program improves public safety by serving as a deterrent to criminal illegal aliens and ensuring they are not returned to our community when they’re released from jail or prison. It also saves taxpayer dollars by keeping our average daily jail population down. This program is not about politics. It’s about utilizing every tool at our disposal to serve the citizens of Gwinnett County, which I am sworn to do.

I’m disappointed we were unable to come together as a community to share differing opinions in a civil manner. The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and every deputy under my command will continue to serve and protect everyone in this county professionally and within the constitution we are sworn to uphold.

— Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway