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Over the past year, I and others in our community have been critical of the 287(g) program implemented in Hall County. Under 287(g), Hall County Sheriff's Office employees are acting as immigration agents and are arresting undocumented immigrants, as well as placing immigration detainers on every undocumented immigrant who ends up in jail.
However, for many years anyone arrested for a serious offense has been referred to immigration agents stationed at the Hall County Detention Center. Therefore, the net result of 287(g) is that now, in addition to detainers being placed on serious offenders, they are placed on all of the most minor offenders as well.
This program costs a great deal of money, does virtually nothing to make our community safer, and foments fear and distrust of police among Hall County's Hispanic community. Sheriff Steve Cronic has defended the program, stating that it reduces crime and make our community safer.
The Police Foundation, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting innovation and improvement in policing, has released a 256-page report on 287(g) pointing out many of the same problems that critics have voiced since its implementation. This study found, among other things, that the costs of 287(g) outweigh the benefits; that it instills fear in the Hispanic community, thus causing victims to be less likely to report crimes and witnesses less likely to come forward; that it creates undue risk of racial profiling; and that, due to these and other factors, the overall effect is detrimental to public safety.
Like it or not, the Hispanic population of Hall County and the United States is here to stay. It does not make sense to harm ourselves to harm them. Throughout U.S. history, we have seen that driving wedges between majority and minority communities hurts us all.
As an immigration attorney, I frequently find myself explaining the dysfunctionality of our current immigration law to people in our community, and I have been published in this paper a number of times explaining the fallacies of the most common anti-immigration arguments, to which I frequently hear the response: What part of illegal don't you understand?
Our community is one of the fastest-growing in the country and it has been built in no small part by Hispanic immigrants. The recession has hit our community much more lightly than in most the country because of our vibrant economy.
If our sheriff and other elected officials are successful in getting rid of the immigrant population, we will lose a tremendous amount of income, buying power and labor. To see the effects of poorly-thought out immigration enforcement, look at Postville, Iowa, where the economy has been virtually destroyed by immigration raids. Greeley, Colo., Grand Island, Neb., Cactus, Texas, Hyrum, Utah, Marshalltown, Iowa and Worthington, Minn., as well as many other towns across America, have also experienced serious economic difficulty as a result of immigration raids.
We should not allow our elected officials to add Gainesville to the list. Now is the time to ask them: What part of cutting off your nose to spite your face don't you understand?
Hall County is right to accept gift of park land
This is to comment on the letter written by Kevin Jarrard in regards to the North Hall park plans. I am a lifelong Hall County resident and I also live in Marina Bay.
I don't understand Mr. Jarrard's concern with Hall County accepting the gift from the Marina Bay developers. It was a very generous gift and I think that most citizens would have been upset if Hall County had refused the gift.
It is my understanding that there is no timeline for completion of the park. Hall County had plans drawn up that showed its planned use of the property and that is all at this time. If Marina Bay was cash-strapped, it would have sold the property.
As you know, this is a tough economic time and there are individuals who are struggling financially. But I have complete trust in the financial position of the Marina Bay developers and I think Hall County did the prudent thing in accepting the gift.
There have been many people and organizations who have donated gifts to Hall County and they have always been accepted with appreciation. The only thing that this gift has cost Hall County is the yearly tax income, but in the future there will be great returns. Thank you Marina Bay and Hall County.