Local Sheriffs Need Your Support
The often overlooked, yet key public official most responsible for quality of life and public safety in thousands of American communities carries a badge, not a briefcase. In old England they were called “Shire Reeves” (get it?) whose job was to keep the peace on behalf of the king. Today we know them as sheriffs, and under the Biden Border Crisis, they struggle to keep the peace in spite of the king.
FAIR works closely with these law enforcement heroes who see firsthand the adverse impact of open borders. We support them, and there are good reasons you should too.
Unlike appointed police chiefs who are subject to progressive politics and often capitulate to special interests, the vast majority of the 3,081 of America’s sheriffs are elected and as such, they’re accountable and responsive to citizen concerns, not least of which is rampant illegal immigration. Consequently, as open borders have fueled record numbers of drugs, guns and gangs in recent years, sheriff departments fought back and sought solutions while at the same time, police departments nationwide became increasingly complicit in counter-productive sanctuary policies.
One solution was 287(g), a voluntary program named for the section of U.S. Code under which the federal government trains and deputizes local law enforcement agencies to assist with the enforcement of immigration laws. Added into the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act in 1996, it quickly became a force multiplier as it allowed local law enforcement direct access into Homeland Security databases to quickly determine legal status, while creating working relationships with regional ICE offices. For departments that opted in, this productive partnership synergized the data resources of the federal government with the eyes and ears of local sheriffs resulting in more criminal aliens being transferred to ICE and fewer being released into local communities.
It works well, so not surprisingly, while 287(g) is still operational, its days may be numbered. Funding is declining, Democrats are putting intense pressure on DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to terminate all the existing agreements (although only Congress can repeal the law itself), and there have been no new Memorandum of Agreements approved since June of 2020, i.e., during the Biden Administration. Worse yet, sheriff departments that utilize the program are under sustained attacks, distractions that Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County, Maryland, knows all too well. His department has utilized 287(g) since 2008, passed each year’s audit with flying colors, and was recognized by ICE as an “Exemplary Law Enforcement Partner.” Despite those accolades, Jenkins faces regular onslaughts of false allegations by local open borders advocates determined to stop the program.
Like most sheriffs, Jenkins tenaciously defends his use of 287(g) because as he says, “it’s the only way I can honor my promise to never put known criminal aliens back onto my streets…and frankly those who want to stop me from doing my job are just a small but very vocal percentage of voters,” a claim proven by the fact he’s been sheriff for 17 years and recently reelected for a 5th term. There may be some “wolves at the door” as Jenkins notes, but the voters clearly support his law and order approach to illegal immigration, time and again.
Jenkins does acknowledge – as do most of his fellow sheriffs across the country – that while 287(g) is a crucial resource, the ultimate solution is to secure the border.
But until that happens, sheriffs need encouragement from you to retain 287(g), to apply for it if they don’t have it, and to use their influence against state legislatures that want to gut their authority with dangerous sanctuary policies. Given that using 287(g) is both a necessity for public safety, yet one that also becomes a target for radical open borders activists, many elected sheriffs need support from the public to hold the line against the small, but boisterous, minority that opposes any manner of immigration enforcement. Thus, you can bet these local public servants (who are unusually receptive to hearing from citizens) will appreciate a reinforcing “thank you” for holding the line and facing the heat, while steadfastly trying to keep the peace.