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The original item was published from 3/27/2017 10:27:56 AM to 7/1/2017 12:00:05 AM.

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Posted on: March 27, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Correctional Center Accepted into ICE 287g Program

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ --Sheriff Gary Schaffer was notified that the Cape May County Correctional Center was accepted into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287g program. Cape May County Sheriff made application to participate in the  287g Jail Enforcement program.  There are presently 37 law enforcement agencies in 16 states that have 287g agreements with ICE.  There are three counties in New Jersey that currently are participating in the program, Hudson County Department of Corrections, Salem County Sheriff's Office and Monmouth County Sheriff 's Office.

Under the agreement, three correctional officers will be trained and certified as Deputy Immigration Officers and given access to the ICE database.  This will allow them to retrieve relevant intelligence data to assist in identifying undocumented aliens that are processed through the correctional center.  This is part of the general intake vetting process practiced at all correctional facilities in the U.S., and will serve to expedite processing of inmates. The three correctional officers chosen for training are experienced officers employed at the Corrections Center, selected for participation based on meeting required criteria and having vital skill sets that allow them to manage and communicate with the diverse culture of inmates that pass through the corrections facility.  Of the three trainees, one is a trained investigation officer, the second officer is fluent Spanish and the third officer is fluent in Russian or East Slavic language. Training will begin upon the next available opening.

In1996, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, added Section287(g) to the Immigration and Nationality Act, local police, upon entry into a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), were granted the authority to enforce federal immigration laws. The Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency was created in 2003 through a merger of the former U.S. Customs Services and the Immigrations and Naturalization Services.  ICE promotes homeland security and public safety and enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration.

Sheriff Schaffer, explained, "The Cape May County Correctional facility has been involved with ICE detainers for the last eight years, our participation in this program will not change the intake process, but will provide advanced training to ensure compliance with federal laws. The Department of Homeland Security was established for just this purpose, the sharing of information between law enforcement at all levels."

Based on the seasonal nature of the county, with more than 12.5 million visitors each year, coupled with the makeup of the transient seasonal job market, interaction with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is high during  the summer months. Records indicate that since 2008, 143 inmates have been removed from the corrections facility and detained by ICE. (average of less than 16 per year)  Another 50 inmates were removed by ICE from other facilities as a result of pending charges in other jurisdictions after the County's charges were reconciled.

 “I can't stress enough, we support the mission and efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, however, it will not be the duty of the Cape May County Sheriff's Office to act as immigration officers.  The three trained Correctional Officers will  remain in the county correctional center, and in that capacity, will not be on the streets. The role of the Corrections Officer is to enforce rules, keep order and maintain security within the facility.  Advanced training for Correctional Officers is paramount for the operation of the facility and personal and public safety.  The only time these officers will be involved with  287g enforcement is when someone is committed to the county jail. If they are identified  through a thorough investigation that they are undocumented and in the country illegally, ICE will be notified, Schaffer said.

Schaffer outlined Cape May County Correctional Center's past involvement state and federal law enforcement programs,  “Since 2008, the County of Cape May has been awarded approximately $275,000.00 in State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funds; which is funded by a grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. In December of 2010, the Cape May County Correctional Center was one of two jails in New Jersey to participate in the Criminal Alien Program (CAP). This program  provides ICE direction and support in the identification, arrest, and removal of priority aliens who are incarcerated within federal, state, and local prisons and jails.

Sheriff Schaffer continued, “I am reinforcing my position that our officers will not be going out looking for undocumented persons. It is not our intention to create fear among families, our purpose is to enforce the law and jail administration. The only way our officers will become involved is if you enter our correctional facility. With the present bail reform in place, the chances of being placed in the correctional center has been greatly reduced.”

Monmouth County has had the 287g program at their correctional center for past 10 years without a problem and Cape May Correctional Center will be following the same model used by them.

“I have directed Warden Lombardo to set up a record and audit of any inmate that becomes involved with this program to ensure activity is above board and transparent,” said Sheriff Schaffer.

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