A dog-walking companion recently told me she may be changing her mind about an issue that’s been in the local news lately. Specifically, she’s beginning to question our sheriff’s participation with ICE in the 287(g) program. Because “maybe it’s doing more harm than good.”

An article in the Aug. 5 issue seemed to suggest that our county executive and council might be having a similar change of mind and heart. They now seem at least tentatively committed to an independent audit of the sheriff’s office’s participation in the program, and to belatedly holding the annual public meeting that the sheriff avoided by quietly re-upping with ICE for another year. Given political realities, only time will tell how truly independent and open the audit and hearing will be. But I’m cautiously choosing to believe these are genuine, hopeful first steps toward requiring the transparency and accountability that have been lacking since the current sheriff took office more than 12 years ago.

I realize this may be wishful thinking by those of us who consider the sheriff/ICE partnership a terrible mistake. But I’m hopeful it’s more than that. As a colleague said recently, “I think it’s an awareness problem. If more people were aware of the program’s real impacts — as opposed to the unsubstantiated claims about it — I don’t think they’d want it to go on.”

I’m also reminded of the words of some residents of a conservative Tennessee community in a recent radio interview, after they witnessed the grief and helplessness of children who had lost family members in an ICE raid at a workplace earlier that day: “When I heard ‘crackdown on illegal immigration,’ I interpreted it as a crackdown on ... real criminals. ... I don’t think anybody ever really stopped to think that they were going to go after the family man working at the meatpacking plant. That’s not what I had in mind.” And “A lot of people ... after the raid felt stunned. ... There’s over 100 churches in the area. ‘Love thy neighbor.’ People here take that seriously.”

As confusion, misunderstanding, and passion about the issue increase, I believe what’s needed is greater awareness, willingness to look beneath the surface and the usual sound bites, and determination to honestly and thoughtfully confront a serious challenge to the quality of life, the conscience, and yes, the image of our entire community.

Jo Harte


(7) comments


Basically, I am for 287 (g), but we need national legislation on what we will allow with DACCA. We need to be reasonable and that does not seem to be the current policy. Much of this is caused by a dictator policy of our Sheriff. He signed a contract in 2008, which is not in compliance with the County charter. This needs to be included with the audit, Jan has requested. Right now the County is paying tax dollars on a contract not authorized by the County.


This LTE confuses me, as it is my understanding that our particular ICE program does not allow for workplace raids. Am I wrong?


You are confusing what the Sheriff's department can do with what ICE can do. The Sheriff's department cannot raid employers, ICE can. ICE is responsible for the expenses incurred by the Sheriff's department for holding illegals. And the audit should clearly define all of those expenses so the County does not have to pay for federal government expenses.

Now, you might ask if this is the best possible way - I do. The problem is an illegal immigrant can go anywhere and 40 % of them simply over stayed their visas.


Our 287(g) Program has nothing to do with Immigration Enforcement directly. Our Program only allows our Detention Officers to determine if people arrested for any reason and brought to the Detention Center are also here illegally and should be held for possible deportation by ICE. It’s called putting a “detainer” on them. Our Program only applies after a person is jailed.


I am aware. I do not want illegal residents of my city, county or country. It has nothing to do with church or my beliefs. It has all to do with the rule of law. When Congress decides to change the law, we will talk. Until then, I support the Sheriff.




What do you think the Sheriff does about illegal aliens that you support him for??? No local Law Enforcement Agency can arrest anyone for entering the Country illegally because it is against the Law for them to question anyone about their immigration status. Only Federal Law Enforcement Agents can do that. So what does Sheriff Jenkins do directly to make Frederick County safer from illegal immigrants ??

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