If you read the Observer today, specifically the article by Franco Ordonez ( http://www.charlotteobserver.com/local/story/845945.html#Comments_Container) you got a watered down version of the upcoming changes to the 287 g program currently utilized at the Mecklenburg County jail.
Franco did not present the severity of the changes coming down the pike and the article left the impression that the changes were no real big deal.
Sue Myrick was interviewed for the article and we offered some of our objections, but none of them made it into print.
So allow me to present two objections here.
As a reminder, the 287g program is offered by the Department of Homeland Security and utilized by the Mecklenburg and Gaston County Sheriff's offices. When an inmate is checked into the respective jail, they are run through the DHS databases and positively identified as being in the country legally or not.
If the inmate is an illegal alien, after he has served the time for the local offense he committed, he is then turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation.
If our jail did not have 287g, then that person would be released back into the general public. This was the case for many years.
Now thanks to the 287g program, Mecklenburg County has caught and started deportation proceedings on over 7,000 illegal aliens since the programs inception in 2006.
This past week, the Mecklenburg 287g program and all other similar programs nationwide were presented with a revised Memorandum of Agreement by the Obama Administration.
The MOA says that local 287g programs like Mecklenburg and Gaston are no longer to turn over to ICE "minor offenders" who happen to be illegal. Specifically, the MOA says that no illegal alien without a prior criminal conviction will be deported. The key words here are "prior criminal conviction."
So what does this mean?
It means if you are an illegal alien and you are convicted of a first offense DUI, you will serve local time for the crime, but upon completion of your sentence you will be released back into our country. You will NOT be deported.
Under the current 287g plan, this illegal alien would be deported.
Under the new plan, the illegal alien will be set free!
We have had several of our constituents killed by illegal aliens drinking and driving over the past few years. The most notable was Scott Gardner from Gaston County.
Why would we give an illegal alien more than once chance to kill us on the road? Once is enough.
Today's Observer article did not deal with this issue. Why?
Second, under the new 287g plan, only a conviction of a Tier I crime will lead to deportation. Tier II and Tier III crimes will not.
Our courts are overloaded. Prosecutors will plea people down to get some form of conviction to free up the court's space for harsher crimes. Well guess what? Those pleas are now going to result in the catch and release of illegal aliens. The illegal community will quickly learn the rule and exploit it. They will cop a plea to avoid deportation. And we in the community will be stuck with law breakers who were smart enough to exploit our own laws.
Again, a point not made in today's Observer story. Shocker.
The changes in the 287g program and the Observer article this morning are aimed at gutting the 287g program but doing so in a way that looks like we are still tough on illegal immigration.
America needs to wake up.