Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sheriff Rambosk: Collier’s 287(g) Program ‘A Model’ For Other Cities



The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has detained more than 2,000 foreign-born criminal aliens, most with extensive criminal histories, during the two years of a program that lets specially trained deputies enforce federal immigration laws.

Sheriff Kevin J. Rambosk said Collier County’s participation in the Section 287(g) program has been successful and has enhanced public safety.

“By not allowing these criminal aliens back on our streets to continue their criminal careers, we have made Collier County a safer place to live,” Sheriff Rambosk said.

Collier’s program, which marks its 2-year anniversary this week, should serve as a model for other communities, the sheriff said.

CCSO began its partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sept. 27, 2007, to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants committing crimes in our community.

The average daily jail population is 26 percent lower than when the program started and the crime rate in Collier has continued to decline, a remarkable accomplishment particularly in this difficult economy.

Through the program, CCSO has been able to identify very violent criminal predators, including sexual offenders and gang members using fraudulent identities to further their criminal careers. Without the necessary resources and support to pursue criminal investigations, these offenders might not otherwise be identified, arrested and removed from our communities.

“The program allows the Sheriff’s Office to remove from our communities those who pose a significant threat to public safety,” Sheriff Rambosk said.

A select group of CCSO deputies have been trained by ICE to identify criminal aliens and initiate removal proceedings from the United States. The training is allowed under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Deputies out in the field are tasked with identifying, locating and arresting both illegally present foreign nationals and legal immigrants who, due to extensive criminal histories, represent a threat to the safety of the residents of Collier County. These individuals are arrested and processed by Criminal Alien Investigations Unit (CAIU) members before they are placed into ICE custody and transported to an immigration facility for a deportation hearing.

The program also gives trained Criminal Alien Task Force (CATF) corrections deputies the power to check an individual’s immigration status once they enter the county jail.

From Oct. 1, 2007, to Aug. 31, 2009, a total of 2,060 criminal aliens have been detained and are set to appear before an immigration judge for removal proceedings.

Of the 2,060 detainers, 1,885 were the result of CATF investigations and 175 were from CAIU investigations.

On average, those detained from the CATF have five misdemeanor charges and one felony charge each, for a total of six criminal charges apiece. The majority, 73 percent, of criminal aliens detained by the CATF have at least on previous arrest.

Criminal aliens removed by CAIU have more extensive criminal records – on average three prior felonies and seven misdemeanors, for a total of 10 criminal charges. Nearly all, 95 percent, had at least one prior arrest.

CCSO also offers some assistance to family members in the form of a brochure.

The brochure outlines what families can expect if a loved one has been arrested for an immigration violation by a deputy or has been detained for an immigration violation while already in the jail . It also lists several resources in the community and their phone numbers that families can turn to for financial assistance due to the loss of a member’s income.

The brochure is written in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole.