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Your Views: Immigration program benefits county residents
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I am writing in response to Alan Shope's letter, "Immigration program isn't good for Hall (Wednesday)." I do not think that Mr. Shope fully understands the 287(g) program.

First of all, he chose to focus on a single passage in the Book of Leviticus to make his point, leaving out others such as "Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another."; "Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him." and "Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life." In Leviticus, Chapter 19, Israel is commanded to be holy, live righteously, love they neighbor and keep all the commandments. Not some of them, but all of them.

The Sheriff's Office does not target individuals based on their alien status. Law enforcement's initial contact with illegal immigrants occurs because they have broken other laws, in addition to violating federal immigration laws by entering the country illegally. Officers are mandated to enforce all of the laws, not just some of them.

The research I have read on the effects of 287(g) indicates the program has produced no complaints of racial profiling or abuse of authority locally. In addition, there has been little or no "chilling effect" reported by participating agencies in their relationships with immigrants in their communities, On the contrary, immigrants continue to report crimes and often feel more comfortable with law enforcement as a result.

In addition, participation in the 287(g) program has greatly reduced the recidivism rate for illegal aliens with criminal charges.

Mr. Shope is correct in his statement that only 100 counties participate in the 287(g) program nationwide. His error is in assuming this limited participation is due to lack of interest on the part of nonparticipating counties, rather than the stringent qualifications and limited access set forth by the federal government.

Serving in a position of chaplain with the Sheriff's Office, I have found the department to be open and willing to discuss any matters of concern with me especially in areas I do not fully understand. Sitting down and discussing the program with the department may change your opinion of it.

Scott Waters
chaplain, Hall County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville

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