Collier County supports continuing 287(g) immigration program

Dania Maxwell/Staff
Grey Torrico, Coordinator of Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project, speaks to fellow protestors who gathered in Immokalee in opposition to the 287(g) policy which allows for the collaboration between the Collier Sheriff's Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday, October, 21, 2012 in Immokalee, Fla. 'These laws exist to divide the people, and we will not be divided,' Torrico said. About 150 protestors marched to the Sheriff's Office to deliver just over 1,700 signatures from Collier County residents who are in opposition to 287(g).

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Dania Maxwell/Staff Grey Torrico, Coordinator of Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project, speaks to fellow protestors who gathered in Immokalee in opposition to the 287(g) policy which allows for the collaboration between the Collier Sheriff's Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday, October, 21, 2012 in Immokalee, Fla. "These laws exist to divide the people, and we will not be divided," Torrico said. About 150 protestors marched to the Sheriff's Office to deliver just over 1,700 signatures from Collier County residents who are in opposition to 287(g).

Despite protests from local residents, Collier County commissioners have voiced their support of a program to continue detaining undocumented immigrants.

Commissioners issued a proclamation Tuesday supporting the continuation of the 287(g) program, which went into effect in Collier in June 2007. The program allows Sheriff's Office deputies - who work with federal authorities - to act as immigration enforcers. That led to deportation proceedings for more than 3,500 undocumented immigrants from the county in five years.

“That accounts for 27,000 crimes, some by repeat offenders,” said Commission Chairman Fred Coyle. “As a result of these people being deported, the jail population has decreased and we do not have to maintain the Immokalee jail. This is saving the taxpayers' money.”

There is nationwide scrutiny of the program, however, with allegations that it instills fear in immigrant communities, results in low-priority deportations, and divides families.

Vinny Angiolillo, who is running against Sheriff Kevin Rambosk for sheriff in the Nov. 6 general election, called the program “a failure.” He said most of those arrested were not serious offenders, but were rather charged with misdemeanors.

“I cannot believe this commission not only condones (the policy), but flaunts it,” he said.

The Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project, which has opposed the program, issued a statement calling the proclamation "shameful" and said it "obliterated trust" in local law enforcement.

Greg Smith, the chief administration officer for the Collier County Sheriff's Office, admitted that some of those who were deported did commit a misdemeanor, but added that the program has also helped the Sheriff's Office deport rapists and those involved in human trafficking.

“The vast majority of our citizens support it. As long as they do, we will continue to do it,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, has scaled back on 287(g) nationally.

Instead, Homeland Security recently has favored the Secure Communities program, which allows for the fingerprints of individuals arrested by local law enforcement agencies to be cross-referenced with those in Homeland Security databases. The program doesn't rely on deputized local police forces for immigration enforcement, as 287(g) does.

John Lundin, an Immokalee resident who is running for commission in District 5, said the new program is less invasive and said he hopes the Sheriff's Office would drop 287(g) in favor of the Secure Communities program.

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Comments » 1

lapalabra writes:

The law is the law. Disgruntled lawbreakers should not be able to decide or demand which laws are enforced and which are not. "Don't Deport my Mommy"? Is mommy here illegally? Yes, then guess what? Mommy is deporting mommy. Our family was created from immigrants from 5 different nations. All legal, all waited and worked to get here. Learned English, worked dirty jobs in fields and factories and educated us. Do not insult me and my family with these insane demands. Go home and come in the legal way. Continue to do the job Sheriff!

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