Immigration organizations hold a vigil and press conference outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Baltimore as a woman goes in for an immigration check-in. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun video)
I was pleased to hear our county executive is considering taking an important step to reduce crime in Anne Arundel County by addressing the illegal immigration status of criminals incarcerated in our detection centers ("County seeks to help immigration," Feb. 25). His intention to participate in the Federal Government Section 287(g) program and cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assist in enforcing immigration laws will greatly benefit public safety in our county.
The 287(g) program was established by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Local detention center officers receive training from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in functions such as identification, processing and detention of individuals who commit a crime and are processed at the facility. If these individuals are also found to be illegally in our country, they are identified and turned over to immigration officials for deportation after they serve the sentence imposed upon them by our judicial system.
Currently, criminals who commit a crime and serve their sentence in Anne Arundel County are released back into the community, even if they happen to be in our country illegally. Often affiliated with gangs, or gang members themselves, these individuals commit additional crimes, only to be sent back to our detention centers. These illegal immigrant criminal activities cost county taxpayers in incarceration, prosecution and public safety response dollars.
As the Anne Arundel County police commander overseeing local homeland security and gang investigation efforts, I see firsthand, the connections between gang association, violence and recidivism. The combination of these activities can lead to increasing crime and concern for the safety of our citizens. The addition of 287(g) is a commonsense effort to identify illegal immigration status of individuals who have already committed crimes against our citizens.
This program is an extremely important public safety tool for our county and I support County Executive Steve Schuh's desire to bring 287(g) to Anne Arundel. Individuals committing crimes, damaging our quality of life and causing our citizens to live in fear have no place in our community. Under no circumstances should these individuals be permitted to remain in our county or our country.
The writer is a Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County sheriff.