Gwinnett County will no longer participate in the 287(g) Program, meaning their officers will no longer perform immigration law enforcement functions. The county’s newly-elected sheriff, Keybo Taylor, announced his decision the same day he was sworn into office.
Gwinnett County first entered into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program in 2009. Under the agreement, officers were trained by ICE to become federal immigration officers. They could interrogate, arrest, process, detain, transport, and issue immigrant detainers to individuals in regard to their immigration status and any related violations.
The previous county sheriff, R.L. (Butch) Conway, signed the renewed agreement last June prior to his retirement. The sheriff’s office issued a report last year purporting that the program saved taxpayer money, promoted public safety, and aided human trafficking rescue efforts.
However, Taylor asserted that the program didn’t actually achieve as much as Conway said it did.
“The program was originally to deport violent criminals,” stated Taylor in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta. “When you go in and look at the percentage of people there in that jail now that [are] there on ICE detainers, they are non-violent offenders.”
Previous investigative reporting in Gwinnett and Cobb County revealed that non-violent, immigrant offenders turned into repeat offenders – in some of the cases, reoffending with more violent crimes.
26 other states are engaged currently in ICE’s 287(g) Program. In Georgia, 6 other sheriff’s offices and the state’s department of corrections are in the program.
The Georgia Star News requested further explanation from the sheriff’s office about Taylor’s belief that the program did more harm than good. Spokespersons with the sheriff’s office didn’t respond by press time.
The ICE-affiliated program wasn’t the only one that Taylor cut. Taylor also announced that the county would no longer have its Rapid Response Team (RRT). RRT was a tactical response team intended to respond to incidents within the Gwinnett County Jail. In recent years, multiple allegations of excessive force arose, resulting in nearly $3 million in settlements over civil rights violations.
To replace both programs, Taylor announced that the sheriff’s office would implement initiatives to address gangs and human trafficking.
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