A meeting on the program was held Wednesday evening at Winchester Hall.
Frederick, Md (KM) The participation by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in the 287g program generated some heated discussion Wednesday night during a 287g Steering Committee meeting. Under the program, deputies are trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine the immigration status of suspects arrested for crimes in the community. “The 287g program can only operate within the confines of the Detention Center,” said Major Michael Cronise, Assistant Superintendent of Corrections for the Sheriff’s Office. “Only offenders that have been arrested and have been brought into the jail are screened to check their immigration status. Only an immigration judge or a senior ICE official can order the removal of a criminal offender.”
The Sheriff’s Office has been part of the program since 2008.
A majority of the citizens in the audience were against the program, and some held signs and cards. Jay Jiminez from Baltimore said 287g discourages immigrants from cooperating with law enforcement because they’re afraid they will be deported. “If you truly are committed to ending these gangs, the one way to do it is not silencing the victims, not silencing the community. That’s exactly what 287g is doing because everyone’s too scared to work with you because they think they’re going to be deported or their family members. So stop silencing the victims if you’re actually truly committed to public safety,” he said.
Delegate Aruna Miller, whose running as a Democrat in the 6th District Congressional race, spoke out against it. “America is built on a nation of immigrants. Diversity is not the problem of America. It’s the promise of America. And the 287g program–make no mistake–is nothing but racial profiling. Make no mistake. That’s where it is,” she said.
Dorothy Herrara-Niles, a Field Office Director for ICE, disputed that. “For your information, there is 100% vetting of every single person at the Frederick County Jail. Its is not based on race. It’s not based on an accent. It’s not based on gender.. It’s 100% vetting,” she said.
The Committee also heard from Jams van Kuilenberg, a trans-gender man who charged that ICE’s action led to the death of trans-gender woman who was fleeing for her life from Central America to the United States. “When you invite ICE into this community, when you applaud them for oppressing and torturing people, the blood is on your hands. It’s on your hands, Sheriff Jenkins, and it will continue to stain your hands until you stop this terrorist organization from being in our county,” he said.
But there was support expressed for the 287g program. Andrew Arthur with the Center for Immigration Reform. defended it. “It increases the removal of criminal aliens,” he said. “But because it’s done in the jail, it only applies to the small fraction of the alien community that are committing crimes. It protects ICE officers and the public because they don’t have to make these arrests in the public. They don’t have to go to people’s houses.”
Sheriff Jenkins said under the program, deputies do not go out and round up those violating immigration laws. The 287g activity takes place in the Detention Center. “I do not believe for one minute that there’s any law enforcement officer in this county that’s out on the street, asking any questions about immigration status,” he said.
“Your denial is denying the stories of real people,” said one audience member who testified.
The Sheriff said he has not received any complaints about the program from citizens, but he urged those who do have complaints and concerns to contact him.
He also in part credited the program for keeping the county’s crime rate low. In addition, Sheriff Jenkins said surrounding communities which are not participating in the 287g program are having problems with gangs such as MS 13.
By Kevin McManus