The decision was made early this week that in Pinellas County deputies will receive formal training from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in how to properly detain illegal immigrants charged with crimes. The announcement, bearing no direct connection to the bill passed last week banning cities wishing to evade immigration laws, was crafted by the Department of Homeland Security, detailing that following training, local law enforcement will be able to arrest based on federal immigration warrants.
This new program is being instituted as a response to Obama-era policies that afforded willing municipalities or county officials to deny federal immigration laws if they chose, creating what have been dubbed “sanctuary cities."
The program was rolled out this week in Pinellas County, where Sheriff Rob Gualtieri, flanked by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez, announced that his department would be instituting the new program, with 40 of his deputies receiving the training in order to properly enforce laws involving criminal illegals.
The sheriff drew the distinction, ahead of assured complaints from various groups, that this was an issue where local law enforcement would be able to take action with illegal immigrants committing crime in our country. “There is no dilemma about people who are here illegally and committing crime -- they are criminal illegals who must be removed from this country ... This is entirely about public safety and law enforcement working together.”
The distinction he makes is this is not simply arresting any and all individuals who are merely an illegal alien. This new program pertains to those illegal aliens who are committing crimes. “There is no dilemma about people who are here illegally and committing crime,” explained Gualtieri. “They are criminal illegals who must be removed from this country… This is entirely about public safety and law enforcement working together.”
The program, in development for the past two years between ICE and sheriff’s organizations will give local law enforcement the ability to detain a criminal illegal for a term of 48 hours, during which they will have custody transferred to ICE officers. If that custody is not taken in the 48-hour time frame, the individuals are then to be released. Of course, even though this is a matter surrounding those with criminal charges applied to them, there are groups braying in opposition.
“This program is just the latest scheme by ICE to enlist local police in its abusive deportation agenda.” So says Lorella Praeli, the deputy national political director at the American Civil Liberties Union. "We urge local law enforcement to resist this dangerous proposal and stand by their commitment to the communities they serve,” says Praeli. This means the ACLU is suggesting that trying to remove a criminal element from the streets is not showing a commitment to the community. This is the same ACLU, recall, that issued a travel advisory warning for the entire state of Florida as a result of that recent ban on sanctuary cities passed last week.
Sheriff Gualtieri has already stifled the pearl-clutching that was expected to follow this announcement. “Sheriffs were between a rock and a hard place,”Gualtieri said. “We had to choose between releasing criminals from our jails to commit more crimes and victimize our communities, or hold these criminal illegals and risk being sued and having to pay six-figure judgments for civil rights violations.”
We’ve had to come up with these solutions because Congress has not acted to pass the laws necessary to close the gaps identified in the 2014 court decisions,” explained Sheriff Gualtieri. “And it's obvious Congress has no will to fix anything related to illegal immigration."
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.