The graduation ceremony was held here at the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association headquarters in the Quorum Center, located at 323 West Jones Street.
The deputies and officers, who represent the sheriffs' offices of Wake County (18), Alamance County (1), Cumberland County (10) and Henderson County (9), were congratulated by Jim Pendergraph, ICE's director of the Office of State and Local Coordination and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.
The four-week course provided in-depth training on a variety of enforcement topics including immigration law, intercultural relations, and how to use Department of Homeland Security databases to help positively identify criminals and immigration violators. Once the Memorandums of Agreements (MOAs) are signed by ICE and the local law enforcement agencies, the officers will be authorized to use the skills learned as part of this training. The agreement will enable officers to determine the immigration status of those processed through the county jails and to initiate removal proceedings for those found to be in the country illegally.
These recent partnerships are as a result of the efforts of the North Carolina Executive Steering Committee (ESC). The committee, which is comprised of representatives from ICE and the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association (NCSA), continue moving forward on a phased approach to developing a statewide plan to identify criminal illegal aliens arrested by local authorities.
North Carolina is leading the country in partnerships under the 287 (g) with seven active MOAs.
"I am happy to be here today to welcome these new graduates to the ICE family," said Director Pendergraph. "North Carolina is setting the bar for the rest of the country by sending the message that partnerships are critical to protecting our communities and upholding the rule of law."
"I am pleased to congratulate today's graduates and thank them for their dedication and service," said Senator Dole. "North Carolina is leading the country in the number of law enforcement agencies trained and using 287(g), and we have the first in the nation statewide immigration enforcement plan. I am proud to work alongside our sheriffs and ICE in this endeavor."
The 287(g) program is named after the section of law under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that authorizes ICE to train local officers to enforce immigration law. The program has received more than $25 million dollars for training and other associated costs under the current FY 2008 budget - up from just over $15 million the program received last fiscal year. Currently, 47 local enforcement agencies spanning the nation have signed MOAs with ICE and now more than 750 officers have been trained to enforce immigration law. The officers from those agencies are credited for identifying more than 57,000 with possible immigration violations in the past two years.
The 287 (g) program is only one component under the ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) umbrella of services offered for assistance to local law enforcement officers. ICE ACCESS provides local law enforcement agencies an opportunity to team with ICE to combat specific challenges in their communities.
Other ICE ACCESS enforcement options include the creation of local task forces targeting specific challenges like gangs or document fraud, the presence of a Criminal Alien Program (CAP) team in local detention facilities to identify criminal aliens, or training to utilize the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) which provides officers the ability to inquire about a person's immigration and criminal history.
Law enforcement agencies interested in reviewing the myriad of enforcement programs under the ICE ACCESS program are encouraged to call their local ICE office or visit www.ice.gov for more information.