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Chatham County commissioners rescind the 2009 ICE Resolution

Posted Friday, June 24, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - At the June 6 meeting of the Chatham county commissioners board chairman Brian Bock stated that in 2009 there was a resolution passed as it related to local law enforcement and ICE. Some of the Commissioners disagreed with that resolution and thought it was too broad in that it spoke for the entire County when in fact it did not.

Because of that he had proposed a new resolution and a lot of feedback had been obtained, resulting in a few amendments to that proposed resolution. The new resolution did what the first resolution he had presented did without so much wording and it was a compromise. But, they did not really need a new resolution in that what they were really trying to do with the resolution he had originally proposed was to rescind that January 5, 2009 resolution. So, the new resolution simply stated ―Be It Resolved that the Chatham County Board of Commissioners rescinds the resolution on the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program approved on January 5, 2009.‖

Commissioner Petty moved, seconded by Commissioner Stewart, to adopt Resolution #2011-32 Rescinding Prior ICE Resolution.

Commissioner Kost stated when the original resolution was passed the backup information talked about how they all felt that immigration reform was an important priority. They just had not thought that the ICE 287G program was the vehicle to take the issue of immigration. This was a very complicated issue and believed they sometimes tended to over simplify, but the ICE 287G program did not work; it did make communities less safe because it made it more difficult to solve crimes. Most law enforcement would tell you that the way crimes were solved was community interaction and if people were in fear of law enforcement they were not going to have that interaction.

Commissioner Kost stated that additionally the 287G program was expensive to administer. One of the speakers at the last meeting had referred to a report from 2010 done by the Inspector General which contained 33 recommendations to improve the program. One of those was that the federal government was pushing down their responsibilities to local law enforcement agencies and that meant that local law enforcement had to pick up the costs.

Many people would say that it was worth the cost if it would take care of getting dangerous people out of their community, but statistics provided by John Graybeal showed that ICE was not picking up hard core criminals but only those people committing petty crimes so it was not effective in ridding communities of felons. All the evidence told them that the ICE program caused racial profiling, and that really did sadden her and was sure it saddened all of them. That was why they needed comprehensive reform.

Commissioner Sally Kost stated that the Board was making a clear statement to the federal government that the County was telling them that they were not going to do their jobs and the federal government should do their jobs and pay for it. She believed that by passing that resolution that was what they were telling the federal government. Today they had gotten an email that the State of Massachusetts had said that the Secure Communities program had caused all sorts of problems, it was not effective, it was not addressing immigration, and they wanted no part of it. She applauded the Governor for the State of Massachusetts because he had sent that message to the federal government that they all should be sending, which was that they wanted comprehensive reform.

Commissioner Kost stated that they had heard from many people about all the issues dealing with the ICE 287G program and she continued to support the original resolution adopted in 2009. She would be voting against the motion made this evening to rescind it.

Chairman Bock encouraged everyone to read the original resolution adopted in 2009, because it was not a resolution on 287G. There were several paragraphs that talked about 287G but the part of the resolution that really counted was the "Be It Resolved" paragraph. That paragraph stated that the Board at that time stood in strong opposition to local law enforcement working with State and federal law enforcement in any capacity where you had to sign a memorandum of agreement.

If it had said 287G they would be having a different discussion. That original 2009 resolution had gone on to say that the resolution was passed on behalf of all the residents of Chatham County, and a resolution was an opinion of the Board and not a reflection necessarily of all the residents of the County. The 2009 resolution was not on 287G; perhaps it was intended to be but that certainly was not what it said.

Chairman Bock stated they heard a lot about Secure Communities, but whether you were for or against the original resolution it did not affect Secure Communities nor did the one before the Board tonight. Secure Communities does not require a memorandum of agreement. Whether that was in place or not in place had no impact whatsoever on Secure Communities. Furthermore, they could not pick and choose which laws they wanted their law enforcement to enforce.

Commissioner Mike Cross stated he did not want to rescind the resolution the Board had adopted in 2009, noting he had voted to approve it and he had not changed his feelings about it. But, after seeing what was proposed and considering that all law enforcement was sworn to uphold the law, he had considered this not a reflection on any sector of citizens but a compromise that the County could use. It did not do anything to law enforcement and they could not tell law enforcement what to do even though the Board controlled the budget, but they could not afford to pay for what law enforcement would be required to do out of tax dollars if local law enforcement had to get involved in some complicated apprehension.

He appreciated the Board majority being willing to compromise, and certainly did not want something stronger in the opposite direction of what had been passed in 2009. So, he would be supporting the motion.

Commissioner Pam Stewart stated that from her standpoint there was no doubt that they badly needed some sort of immigration reform as well as tax reform. But, they could not refuse to pay their taxes because they did not agree or did not think it fair. This was an emotional issue because they were talking about human beings and human life, and when you started talking about those types of humanity issues it did become an emotion issue.

Commissioner Stewart stated one of the things she continued to think about and that resonated in her head was the oath of office they had taken to uphold the law, and they had sworn to uphold the Constitution of North Carolina and the Constitution of the United States. Whether she liked them or not, she was bound by her oath to uphold those laws so she could not in all good conscience say that she was going to vote on something that said she was not going to uphold the law.

She would like to see things change, but that change would have to come from a higher power than Chatham County to really see any reform, because basically law enforcement would do what they had to do. Whether they realized it or not, things that law enforcement did electronically would allow them to detect people who were in this country and this County illegally, and she trusted law enforcement that they would not be profiling people and were not out rounding people up and chasing them down in the streets because they were suspected of being illegal. After talking with Sheriff Webster she had been reassured that that was not happening and they did not have the manpower to do that.

Chairman Bock stated if in fact their Sheriff‘s Department was conducting racial profiling, which they were not, and if there was any evidence of that, that was a completely different topic to discuss and had nothing to do with the discussion taking place now in terms of this resolution. If someone had evidence otherwise, then the Board would want to see it.

Commissioner Kost stated she wanted to make the point that participating in the 287G program was not a requirement of local law enforcement. It was an optional program, and one of the speakers had made the comparison that local law enforcement was not out collecting back taxes for the IRS, and paying your taxes was a federal law. The County was not in the business of enforcing federal laws, and it was the federal government‘s responsibility to do that.

Commissioner Stewart stated that they were not out there doing that.

Chairman Bock stated the point was that the 2009 resolution was not a 287G resolution, and if it had been then they would be having a different discussion. He also noted that someone had given to him today a petition with approximately 250 signatures asking that the Board rescind the 2009 resolution. It was not all one sided, noting that the Farm Bureau had officially said that they supported rescinding the 2009 resolution.

Chairman Bock called the question. The motion carried four (4) to one (1) with Commissioner Kost opposing.

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Chatham County commissioners rescind the 2009 ICE Resolution

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