Sheriff: 287 (g) in future, C.A.P. to determine immigrant status now
Brande Poulnot

Friday, Jun 26, 2009

Citing inadequate local illegal immigrant activity and federal requirements that must be satisfied, Sheriff Clark Millsap said the program authorizing state and local law enforcement agencies to perform federal immigration duties is in Bartow County's future.

Millsap, before re-elected to his third term last year, said publicly he wanted to sign a "memorandum of agreement" with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to implement -- at the Bartow County Sheriff's Office -- the 287 (g) program, part of the Immigration and Nationality Act passed in 1996. In a recent interview, Millsap said in the short term, the county's law enforcement agency would use another option to determine if foreign-born inmates are in the country illegally.

"There has to be numbers upon numbers [of illegal immigrants] and there are so many requirements you've got to be able to meet as far as your jail goes to be able to sign a [287 (g)] contract," Millsap said. "That's why we're going to use the resources we've already got available while we prepare everything else to see if we're going to meet the requirements to be a 287 (g) county."

Millsap said several ways exist to implement 287 (g) -- through the use of jail enforcement and/or task force officers.

"You cannot be a jail enforcement officer if you do not meet the requirements of the federal government to have 287 (g) officers in the jail," he said. "We don't meet that requirement right now. We don't have the number of non-American-born illegal aliens coming into this facility. We have to prove that they are illegal and there has to be a certain number that you're coming in contact with and there's certain things that you have to have in place to be called a detention [center] and have jail enforcement officers. We can do 287 (g) with the task force officers."

Another I.C.E. initiative, the Criminal Alien Program, is "something in place that can assist us without doing the 287 (g)," Millsap said. "They provide the same thing that a 287 (g) officer would do here. All we have to do is call them and they would send an agent up here to do an IAQ, which is an Immigration Alien Query. There's resources for us already to determine if someone is here illegally or a re-entry case that we're going to start utilizing before we get 287 (g) squared away. That's in the future. We're going to start doing C.A.P. now."

C.A.P. "focuses on identifying criminal aliens who are incarcerated within federal, state and local facilities thereby ensuring that they are not released into the community by securing a final order of removal prior to the termination of their sentence," according to the I.C.E. Web site.

Millsap said he wants to implement 287 (g) -- which would employ three to four local deputies supervised by I.C.E. agents -- to identify, process, and when appropriate, detain immigration offenders, but that may be in 2010 or beyond.

"I would say when we get the new [jail] addition built and we get the people to staff it," he said. "You've got 287 (g) in Whitfield, Hall and Cobb counties. These illegal [immigrants] know where not to go because if they're here illegally they know if they get locked up in those counties, they're going to get deported. I want them to know 'don't come to Bartow County either' because if we don't have a 287 (g), we're still going to use other resources, such as C.A.P., and any other kind of resource we can, to get them out of Bartow County."

The sheriff said last Friday he was not aware of any illegal immigrants not being held for I.C.E. who are currently housed in the Bartow County Adult Detention Center, adding that when an inmate with questionable immigration status is present in the jail, local authorities would begin to use C.A.P. ... 776D99E58A