Snaphshot of Illegal Immigration at the Local Level: What’s Going On and What’s Being Done
Posted by Joshua Price on October 17, 2007
I had a chance to sit down with Hall County, Georgia Sheriff Steve Cronic last week. We talked about several items, notably illegal immigration and fighting and responding to terrorism on a local level.
Now a little background for you about Hall County. Gainesville, the county seat, is considered to be the “poultry capitol of the world.” I would bet that most chicken consumed has been through a plant in Gainesville at some point along the way.
Hall County is a rapidly growing quasi-suburb of Atlanta. Atlanta has seen a huge increase in population since the 1996 Olympics, and a result, that population has sprawled out into many counties surrounding the city.
Because of the increase in population, Atlanta has seen a massive increase in demand for housing, so residential and commercial construction have become significant employers in the metro-Atlanta area. Hall County, though technically not included in the metro area, is no different.
Taking these two facts, that Hall County has many poultry farms and processing plants, and that the county has seen a huge increase in the demand for housing, and you start to get the idea that it may have a significant illegal immigrant population. The poultry and construction industries are notorious for requiring cheap labor and hiring illegals. As a result, many illegals have flocked to the Gainesville/Hall County area.
So what are some of the consequences of a significant illegal population for a local area?
According to Sheriff Cronic, in Hall county:
“What we’re seeing, particularly in the last several years, we’re seeing, in relation to our quality of life issues when it comes to drugs, violent crime and gangs, we’re seeing a disproportionate amount of illegal aliens that are involved in those activities (my emphasis added).
I want to say this: the immigrants that we have here who have come to this area by legal means, God bless them. We never have any trouble with them. You know, they’re good people, they’re involved, but the ones that are here in violation of our immigration laws show up disproportionately in all those areas.
Give you some statistics: about 90% of the volume of drugs–now this is not individual cases–but the volume of drugs being seized in Hall County–brought in and seized now–are coming in from Mexico and brought in by illegals. That includes record level seizures in methamphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana in the last several years. And that’s not just unique to our area. It’s happening in a lot of areas all around this country.
We’re seeing our homicides–we had about about a three year period where around a third to half of our homicides were committed by, or strongly believed to be by, illegal aliens.
Our gangs are 80-85% Mexican street gangs, and of course because of their age it’s hard to determine immigration status.”
But just remember, we are told by the liberals and globalists that these are just hard-working, law-abiding immigrants here to make a better life for their families. Undoubtedly, that is the case with some, but every illegal alien by definition came to this country illegally, therefore they are not law-abiding.
We are also told that if we continue to tighten up on illegal immigration we will lose information about crimes and other acts of violence that are currently provided by illegals. In other words, we are made to believe that there is a significant amount of information regarding crimes given by many illegals. Now I have always had an issue with this, finding it hard to believe. So I asked Sheriff Cronic if this really goes on as much as we’re lead to believe:
“My take on that, and I’ve been in this for about 28 years and I’ve seen things change so much, but it’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy when you have so many people here that enter illegally. I mean that in-and-of-itself sets them in position where they’re reluctant to participate, reluctant to help, reluctant to make contact, reluctant to report a lot of things, and the main reason is their status in being here. I don’t know that by ignoring that you make that situation any better.
I think the thing that we need to do as a country is to secure those borders. If we don’t have people in here that have that status and have to worry about it, then those are issues that are moot. So it’s kind of one of those things that I don’t think you can argue the fact that if you do anything about you’re going to create a situation in which you don’t have good information flow. I think the situation itself is already there and you don’t have good information flow.”
So now that we have an idea of what the illegals are doing to us at local levels all across this country, what is being done about it?
Well in Hall County, along with a handful of other counties across the country, they are seeking what is called 287(g) status with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I asked Sheriff Cronic about this program and what it means for immigration reform:
“The program itself is one that enables local jurisdictions–we’re basically lining up and getting permission, or requesting legally, to their job for them. That’s what it amounts to.
We will have access, under that program–and again, I’m relaying to you know what I’ve been told. I haven’t seen it in the form of a formal, written memorandum of agreement, which is what we’re waiting on now. All these things, like I say, I’m assuming are going to be pretty much what they told us, but I won’t know for certain until we actually see that MOA.
It should give us–we will be training a number of our arrest/booking folks and they will be actually certified as federal officers. They will have access to, and have to databases available to them, to actually do the searches to positively verify immigration status themselves.
We plan to have two of our task force–our narcotics unit and gang task force–a representative of each of those investigative entities that will be certified for field work and will help us a lot since what we’re seeing so much of our gang and drug stuff involved with persons here in violation of the law. So, we’re looking to put that in place, and hopefully we’ll be done fairly soon. I’ve told them that I’m going to be the squeaky wheel–I’m not going away.
At this point, we’re identifying the specific officers because there are certain guidelines that they require for the officers to go through training, and we’re waiting on the MOA. Once that MOA is in place and signed then we can initiate the training, and therefore the program.
Like I said, our hope is that through that it will enable us to have more control, to be able to respond a little quicker because, again–and it’s one of those things that I wish the federal government would do this, and there are those that argue this is a federal issue. Well, yes, I agree, and it should be handled by the federal government, but in absence of them handling it and when we see so much of our local–when it becomes a criminal issue, a quality of life issue for us locally and our citizens, then someone has to step up. Unfortunately, it becomes our problem when we see so much of the local crime being committed by persons here in violation of the law. So that’s why we’re doing it, and we hope to be able to expedite some these cases where we hope to have more control over who deportation is initiated on before we’re at the mercy of the federal government based on, again, what we’ve seen, which has been their policy, not necessarily written law, only with an underlying felony and in some rare exceptions when we have asked them to.
What we’ll be able to do is, for instance, if this comes out–the MOA is kind of what they told us–even with cases like habitual violator, DUI–something like that–would be subject to it. It will give us some control over who gets processed. Now they will still have the hearings, the due process, and those things will be afforded to them just like anybody else, but they will have to through the federal system and show cause as to why they shouldn’t be deported.”
The bottom line on the 287(g) program is that it essentially transfers some the federal immigration responsibility to local law enforcement, allowing them to initiate the process as opposed to having to wait for the feds to get involved.
You may ask why more local law enforcement agencies aren’t requesting this in light of the federal government’s absence on the issue. Well the program requires a significant amount training, resources and paperwork that many local law enforcement agencies just can’t handle. Also, many counties don’t have severe illegal populations so the cost-benefit analysis would say that it’s unnecessary in those cases.
It’s a shame the counties like Hall are having to do the federal government’s job, or is it? I feel much more comfortable with people like Sheriff Cronic being charged with these responsibilities than the empty suits in Washington.
You can read more about 287(g) here: