Today’s City Paper contains an LTE from the good Sheriff of Mecklenburg County, N.C. (Charlotte) He accuses me of “falsifying” information. To my knowledge, I didn’t present any information. I echoed concerns that the local (Charlotte) advocates have about the application of the 287(g) program. Since I am doubtful that the City Paper will print my reply, I am posting it here for both of my readers to digest:
The Sheriff from Charlotte accidentally omitted a few points that would have shed a bit more light on his 287(g) program. Like Nashville, the Sheriff in Charlotte does not perform front line policing. Therefore, he is correct to say that the program does not affect anyone not arrested and brought to his jail. What he did not say is that he or his deputies have virtually no control over who may end up in custody. The statistics I have (provided by the training officers) indicate that over half of the NTA’s issued resulted from traffic stops. A traffic stop can occur over the heinous crime of a broken tail-light. Couple that with the fact that the Mecklenburg County Jail’s policy is that everyone who is processed through the program receives an NTA, regardless of the nature of the crime he or she is accused of committing. The result is that someone like Gustavo Reyes would be treated the same as someone like Claudia Nunez. I have to ask, is this the purpose of this program? Is our community better off with this mother of two being sent back to El Salvador, while the truly dangerous simply move to an adjacent county that does not possess the same access to the ICE database? It is the Police Dept who will be exercising most of the discretion. It should be said that the deputies in Mecklenburg County, and particularly Sgt. Stansell, were completely transparent, helpful and indeed professional while I was their guest. It should be said that my reservations about this program have nothing to do with any lack of confidence in the ethics or abilities of the personnel in Charlotte, or Nashville. However, the suspension of the Driving Certificate Program here in Tennessee makes those in our community already living in the shadows the most vulnerable to arrest for petty traffic violations. The end result will be tremendous pain and suffering as families are separated indefinitely, often times with the added tragedy of the sole breadwinner being incarcerated and deported. Meanwhile, some myopic elected officials will point to their statistics as proof that they are making their communities safer. Every immigrant advocate that I know wants to see the removal of criminals in every community, and, if the 287(g) program is applied judiciously, it can be a tremendous tool for Sheriff Hall and Chief Serpas. That doesn’t mean that the potential for abuse should go unmentioned.