November 5, 2007                                                                                                          Item #7

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Item Title:      Partnership between US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and the Wake County Sheriff's Office

 

 

Specific Action Requested:

That the Board of Commissioners approves the creation of 12 new positions for the Wake County Sheriff's Office to implement a program for the Wake County Sheriff's Office to partner with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

 

 

Item Summary:

 

Currently there are four Sheriff’s Offices in North Carolina that have Memoranda of Agreement with the US Department of Homeland Security to have designated officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Those four offices are: Mecklenburg County (2/2006), Alamance County (01/2007), Gaston County (02/2007), and Cabarrus County (03/2007). Many other counties in the state have also applied to participate in this program.

 

Section 287(g) of the “Immigration and Nationality Act” authorizes local law enforcement agencies to work with ICE to identify, process, and detain immigration offenders encountered during arrest for other criminal activity. Once the Wake County Board of Commissioners approves the implementation of this program, the Sheriff’s Office enters into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to implement this new program. These local programs are conducted in the county jails after individuals have been arrested for some criminal activity. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is prepared to enter into a partnership with ICE to implement a 287(g) program should the Wake County Board of Commissioners agree to provide the necessary staffing for this program.

 

Alamance County indicated that 30% of the inmates processed through their jail were identified as “non-US born.” Wake County processes over 35,000 inmates each year. If we had the same experience as Alamance County, that could mean almost 10,000 inmates would be identified as "non-US born" in Wake County detention facilities. Mecklenburg County estimates that approximately 11% of those processed are non-US born. Over 50% of those non-US born in Mecklenburg County that were processed in the jail were identified to be processed for removal. Wake County CCBI, which provides booking activity for the jail, estimates that 17% of those processed in booking are considered non-US born. We expect that the number of inmates that would be identified to be processed for removal would mirror Mecklenburg County's.

 

When the program is implemented in Wake County, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office staff will interview foreign national inmates to determine whether there is probable cause for an immigration violation. We will use equipment and technology provided by ICE to fingerprint and photograph non-US born arrestees and to search their database to determine if there are immigration violations. In addition to fingerprinting, photographing, and interviewing these individuals, officers will prepare documentation to place aliens in deportation proceedings, and prepare any documentation to deport aliens after their State criminal case has been adjudicated. Staff will also refer criminal aliens to ICE for any other potential criminal prosecutions. The head of this unit, a lieutenant, will also spend a considerable amount of time working closely with the district attorney’s office to assure that proper processing occurs in the State courts.

 

The WCSO will operate the ICE unit 24-7 with two detention officers on duty at all times. This will require eight detention officers with no additional officers included for relief for sick, vacation, and/or holidays. Two sergeants will also be employed to supervise the officers and to provide the quality control review of all cases. A detention lieutenant will be responsible for managing the program, being the liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney, and being the liaison with the investigations division of the WCSO. An administrative position will also be needed to handle any billing of the federal government for housing detainees, compiling statistics, analyzing trends, and reporting the activities of the unit to various federal agencies.

 

The cost to provide this program is estimated to be $539,341 for on-going costs for salaries, benefits, and the use of one vehicle. One-time costs are expected to be $89,975. This includes purchase of uniforms and equipment for the officers and one vehicle for the lieutenant.  For the current fiscal year, the Sheriff’s Department does not anticipate incurring cost until late Winter, early Spring 2008. If additional funds are needed for the Sheriff’s Office budget this current fiscal year, a wrap-up ordinance in June 2008 will be utilized to correct any operating deficits.

 

 

 

Attachments:

1.      Summary of Cost

2.      Budget Memo