Rockingham County, North Carolina Sheriff Sam Page has been at the vanguard of local officials striving to enforce our immigration laws since he was first elected in 1998. Now he’s highlighting the right path for the Tar Heel State and the rest of America by demonstrating how to effectively cooperate with federal immigration authorities rather than dangerously undermining them. Law enforcement across the country should take heed and follow suit.
After the elections in 2018, six newly elected sheriffs in North Carolina’s largest counties adopted sanctuary policies. Immediately, horrific crimes committed by illegal aliens followed. Each of these counties chose to forego public safety, releasing these dangerous criminals back into their communities rather than handing them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
By contrast, on March 11, Sheriff Page announced his office would be the first in the state to sign a cooperation agreement with ICE to join their new Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program. WSO is a simpler version of ICE’s preexisting 287(g) cooperation program. WSO was designed to require less resources and training, but still allow state and local law enforcement officers in jails to be deputized as immigration officers. These deputized officers have access to ICE’s databases and are able to serve immigration detainers and administrative warrants on illegal aliens in their custody.
WSO was first rolled out by ICE in Florida last year, where Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was heavily involved with ICE in developing the program. Since its rollout, it has become an integral part of enforcing SB 168, Florida’s 2019 anti-sanctuary law. According to ICE, 42 of Florida’s 67 counties are now in WSO. Outside of Florida, there are now five counties, including Sheriff Page’s, that participate in the WSO program.
As past president of the North Carolina Sheriffs Association, Sheriff Page is quite influential. Rockingham County’s participation in WSO provides an excellent example to other North Carolina sheriffs about how they can further protect their communities.
As Page says, “[t]his is a lawful process. This is a voluntary process. Any county sheriff in North Carolina can do this process.” He also added that “serving ICE federal arrest warrants and subsequently transferring criminal illegal aliens directly into their custody will make our communities safer … The first responsibility of any Sheriff should be public safety and the protections of the citizens we serve.”