Department of Homeland Security reports record high August for Mexican border crossings

September 12, 2018 11:39 PM

TROY - Under the 287(g) program, two trained corrections officers can assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or ICE by vetting inmates at the jail who are in the country, illegally.

"So, if somebody is sentenced to this facility and we can vet them in real time as opposed to letting them out and finding out later they're wanted by ICE," Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo said. 

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Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a record high number of "family units" crossed the Southwest Border in August, 38% more than the previous month. 

Sheriff Russo reinforces his belief that the program is another tool to help keep residents safe. 

"I'm sure the people in Rensselaer county want to know, is this program really the revenue stream that the sheriff promised," Melanie Trimble said, NYCLU Capital Region Chapter Director. 

The Sheriff says the jail gets reimbursed $97 each day an "illegal inmate" is at the jail. But when asked how the program has been doing since it started two months ago:

"What about statistics, you have any numbers?"

Sheriff Russo replied, "I don't but I know it's not many, I know we haven't had many."

Trimble calls the program a violation of civil rights and says it threatens an already vulnerable community.

"It makes the immigrant communities much less likely to report crimes or participate with the sheriff's office because they know that they're more vulnerable to be wrapped up in the immigration system and deported," Trimble said.

Last week Sheriff Russo joined 43 other sheriffs from across the country at the White House.

They lobbied members of Congress to pass stricter immigration laws.

"There a lot of problems in the immigration system that we have set up but let's fix it as opposed to just coming up with ideas that have, they have no sense in reality," Trimble said.

"It's a shame it became a political issue because it's really not a political issue it's a public safety issue," Russo said.

The Sheriff reiterated this program does not mean the Corrections Officers have the authority to go out and conduct sweeps.

Rensselaer county is the only county in New York State participating in the 287(g) program.


Karen Tararache

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