BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s one year into a controversial immigration program, and Harford County says it’s flagged dozens of people for possible deportation.
The sheriff calls it a success, despite concerns from immigration advocates.
The more than 40 people facing possible deportation were flagged by deputies as they came into the county jail.
Harford county correctional deputies are not only scanning arrestees’ criminal backgrounds, but also their immigration status.
They’ve been doing this for the last 13 months.
“These are offenders who are not only here in the country illegally, but have committed acts that the federal government feels that they shouldn’t be returned to our community,” said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler.
Sheriff Gahler partnered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last October, launching the program inside the county’s detention center.
Since then, deputies have screened 105 arrestees.
44 of them were found to be in the U.S. illegally, and four of those people are members of the notoriously violent gang Ms 13, Gahler said.
“Those are certainly four individuals that I don’t want to let back out into our Harford County neighborhoods,” Gahler added.
Neighborhoods where CASA’s director Elizabeth Alex warned that programs like this could breed mistrust in the police.
“There’s sort of this extra fear that immigrants will go further into the shadows and not participate,” Alex said back when the program launched.
Sheriff Sahler says if you don’t break the law, there’s nothing to worry about.
“As sheriff, I don’t want to return criminals to our community to further victimize the citizens of Harford County,” he said.
Frederick and Anne Arundel Counties have the same program, and ICE oversees the programs at each jail.