BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — People in Northwest Arkansas are voicing their concern about two local law enforcement agencies implementing federal immigration law.
An annual meeting was met with contention.
The 287(g) program is a partnership between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
It allows police departments to enter into agreements with ICE, permitting their officers to carry out certain federal immigration enforcement functions.
Right now there are 78 law enforcement agencies with 287(g) agreements in 20 states.
The Benton and Washington County Sheriff’s Offices are the only two agencies in Arkansas that have 287(g) agreements with ICE.
After an arrest is made, officers question where you’re born and notify homeland security if you’re here illegally.
“I know that on average, we have one ICE-related interaction a day. That doesn’t mean deported, that means someone has a status issue going on,” Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway said.
People Power of Washington County collected more than 4,300 signatures asking Sheriff Shawn Holloway and Sheriff Tim Helder, who was not present, to withdraw from the agreement.
Helder was not present because of a previously-scheduled meeting in Little Rock with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Helder sent representatives from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in his place.
Kenny Arredondo says 287(g) is breaking apart local families.
“One of my best friends –I’ve seen him struggle and struggle with depression and alcoholism since his brother was deported. His family is destroyed. It’s like a tree that loses a limb. It’s really devastating,” Arredondo said.
Holloway adds, “the benefit I’ve seen for us is being able to identify violent criminals who not in this country legally, and after they go through our legal process to send them back to where they are supposed to be.”
But activists say this process has no benefits.
“If they cared to serve and protect us, they would get rid of this program. It has been done in other states, it has been done in other counties, I want it done here now,” Arredondo said.
Holloway, acknowledging that there’s pros and cons, says the final decision will come down to he and Helder.
“I think the program could be totally beneficial if there were a few things changed in the program, and mainly those aspects that deal with the family issues,” he said.
Holloway says he’s going to look more into the details of this program and get out and speak with more constituents on this issue.