Posted on March 28, 2008
Our nation’s immigration system is broken and Congress needs to take bigger steps toward regaining the public’s trust by securing the border and upholding the rule of law. I’ve supported this goal by calling for the inclusion of Davidson County in the 287 (g) program – one of the first in the country to allow local sheriff’s deputies to check the immigration status of people in the county jail and begin the deportation process if they turn out to be here illegally. The program gives also gives law enforcement officials valuable training and resources from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In only one year since Davidson County was included in the program they have processed nearly 3,000 individuals for deportation – around eight criminals each day. They have removed nearly 50 gang members from the streets of Davidson County. In fact, Davidson County has processed more illegal immigrants for removal in its first year of the program than any other county in a non-border state and more than any other county east of Phoenix, Arizona. This success is a result of the excellent work of the law enforcement community in Davidson County as well as the partnerships between the members of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation and state and local law enforcement officials over several years. In October of 2006, I, along with other members of the Tennessee delegation, contacted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and successfully urged the inclusion of Davidson County in the 287 (g) program. Then in January of 2007 I was pleased to join Sen. Corker and Congressmen Cooper and Blackburn in presenting Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall with a memorandum of Agreement declaring Davidson County as one of 287(g) program recipients. This week, we celebrated the program’s one year anniversary. Our next step is to have an immigration judge assigned to Nashville, so the individuals caught can be processed there – speeding up the deportation process and saving Tennessee taxpayers money. Congressman Cooper and I have requested a judge, and will continue working with other members of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation to have one assigned as soon as possible. My good friend Alex Haley always used to say, “Find the good and praise it” and the success of the 287 (g) program should be held up as an example of what can happen when we work together to tackle a big problem like illegal immigration. We will continue to urge other members of Congress to support solutions that help secure the border and protect the rule of law ***** Lamar Alexander, Tennessee's senior United States Senator, is also chairman of the Conference of Republican Senators.