|Dole meets with local sheriffs|
|Tuesday, 21 August 2007 20:30|
In a meeting yesterday with local sheriffs, Senator Elizabeth Dole discussed the relationship between illegal immigration and drug crimes- and how to stop it- once and for all.ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, have their work cut out for them. The 287 G program may allow sheriffs to help, Dole says.
"This is a program which enables sheriffs and deputies to really be a part of that ICE team, in terms of starting the process with an illegal immigrant," she said.
Right now- sheriffs have difficulty keeping drugs off the streets. While locally grown marijuana and Carolina-produced meth are declining- imported drugs are on the rise. It’s cheaper to grow marijuana in Mexico, officials say- and new sale regulations on pseudoephedrine make it difficult to maintain a meth lab in the States. More and more drugs are being imported- and it’s hard to keep illegal aliens with records off the streets, according to Burke Sheriff John McDevitt.
"Right now, when we deal with them and they make bond, they just move to the next county and change their name, or if we do deport them, until we get the borders secure, they're back in two weeks," McDevitt said.
By working together, Caldwell, Catawba, Burke and Alexander sheriffs hope to get a program locally that will make it easier to identify and process illegal aliens.
While what’s being talked about only directly affects those four counties, if such services are available- it will benefit the High Country according to Alan C. Jones.
"We can also offer those services to the counties up in the mountains and even further west," Jones said.
It’s a two-front fight, sheriffs say. While Elizabeth Dole pledges to fight to keep borders secured on a national level, the 287 G program could allow sheriffs to take action on the issue locally. The program would only affect illegal aliens convicted of crimes, Dole says. She hopes to set a national example.
"I think there's really an opportunity here for North Carolina to be a model state, but it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of focus and a lot of seeking additional funds," Dole said.
Dole plans on meeting with sheriffs across the state about illegal immigration’s affect on local law enforcement.
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