A lawman’s perspective on illegal immigration

sheriffAmnesty — “comprehensive immigration reform”, or whatever you want to call it — is on everyone’s mind here in the heat of Campaign 2014.  In fact, congresswoman Renee Ellmers had  a nasty on-air fight with nationally-syndicated conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on the subject.

I caught up with Moore County sheriff Neil Godfrey to get a law enforcement perspective on the debate.  Godfrey told me that the great majority of the immigrant population in his jurisdiction is well-behaved and law-abiding.

He said roughly eight percent of his department’s entire caseload each year involves immigrants with questionable citizenship status. Godfrey said the charges in those cases usually involve things like drugs or drunk driving — with an occasional driving without a license or proper insurance.

The sheriff says he has hired some Spanish-speaking deputies to help with his department’s interaction with the immigrant community.

I asked the sheriff what lawmakers could do to make things easier for law enforcement in dealing with immigration matters:wall

“They could stop the revolving door.  You catch these folks, they get deported, and then they’re right back here. A lot of times, you turn them over to ICE and they take them down to Atlanta for their deportation hearings.  They get bonded out while waiting for the hearing, and then disappear.”

Godfrey says the feds have pretty much told local law enforcement to not bother them with any illegals unless they have been charged with “serious crimes.”  What’s a serious crime?  Significant drug activity or violence, says the sheriff:

“They tell us they don’t have the resources to handle all of them.”