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Immigration effort helps fight drugs

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Nash County deputies are taking part in a federal immigration enforcement program to help staunch the flow of drugs into the area, not to lock up law-abiding immigrants, Sheriff Keith Stone said.

“I'm not interested in any immigrant who isn't a criminal,” Stone said. “But this helps when we stop an illegal alien on the interstate involved in criminal activity. It helps get him out of our community.”

Stone is referring to the 287(g) program, named for Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Through the 287(g) program, state and local police officers work with federal authorities to enforce federal immigration laws with the authority and assistance of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Stone said his deputies aren't out rounding up immigrants.

“My primary reason for participating is the help we get with contraband,” Stone said. “I want to stop heroin and cocaine from getting to our community. Even marijuana, but I'm more concerned about the serious drugs that're killing our loved ones.”

Under the program, federally-deputized local officers are authorized to issue immigration detainers to hold individuals until ICE takes them into custody.

The ACLU has repeatedly expressed its concern about ICE's delegation of federal immigration authority to state and local law enforcement agencies under the 287(g) program.

Stone said he's been asked about his participation in the program, but once he explains his position, folks understand.

Stone said his priority is always the safety of Nash County residents.

“I would feel like I let the people of Nash County down if I let a criminal go instead of holding him for a federal agency,” Stone said.

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