In recent months, several North Carolina sheriffs have shown no qualms with defying detainers issued by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). Those reckless decisions have resulted in the release of hundreds of criminal aliens into the communities they swore to protect.
In August of last year, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed House Bill 370, a law that would have required local law enforcement to comply with immigration and administrative warrants put out by ICE. Rejecting the bill further empowers rogue sheriffs to continue releasing criminal foreign nationals before ICE can deport them.
However, one county is bucking this trend. Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County has spearheaded a program to increase public safety, and other sheriffs have followed suit in the Tar Heel State.
These sheriffs are choosing to take part in the Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program, an extension of the 287(g) program. The WSO allows law enforcement to cooperate with ICE regardless of any municipal or state policies that might otherwise forbid them from working with federal immigration agents. Under WSO, selected officers receive the training and authority necessary from ICE to execute administrative warrants. Aliens arrested by one of these agencies can be kept in detention for up to 48 hours, during which time ICE has to take custody, or else the alien must be released. Additionally, the WSO program provides aid to agencies with financial and personnel constraints to enforce immigration law.
Other states are pursuing the WSO program as well. In 2019, elected officeholders and sheriffs in Florida put their support behind the new partnership initiative. Since then, 42 counties have joined the program across the Sunshine State.
Elected officials ought to embrace legislation and federal agencies’ assistance that ease their objective of preserving public order. Preventing crimes from occurring is just as imperative as responding to them. The safety of North Carolinians should not be in jeopardy over protecting immigration lawbreakers from deportation.
For more information on the 287(g), check out FAIR’s Understanding Immigration Podcast, which recently did an episode covering the program.