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August 8, 2019

Half The Story

Ken Kellar

What do the auditing of the county’s program to nab illegal immigrants (287(g)), the assessment of school impact fees for new homes and perhaps even the county/state farm preservation program have in common?


The kindest thing I can say is that they represent incomplete thinking. They certainly represent incomplete accounting. Due to space limitations, I’ll focus on the 287(g) program although a similar situation exists regarding the county’s approach to school construction financing and the myriad subsidy programs associated with farms.


Financial accounting, to be effective, must “account” for all cash flows. Suppose I told you I just collected $1000 selling apples out of the back of my truck. Is that good news? What do you need to know to form an opinion? Gross receipts alone don’t tell the story.


That’s the kind incomplete information our county elected officials are going to spend our tax dollars to obtain. They are going to hire a firm to “independently” determine the costs to the county of the Sheriff’s participation in the Federal 287(g) program. They will not assess the benefits.


The U.S, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency describes the program as follows:


“The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added Section 287(g), to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section of law authorizes the Director of ICE to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies that permit designated officers to perform limited immigration law enforcement functions. Agreements under section 287(g) require the local law enforcement officers to receive appropriate training and to function under the supervision of ICE officers.


“The 287(g) Program continues to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from its partners. The mutually beneficial agreements allow state and local officers to act as a force multiplier in the identification, arrest, and service of warrants and detainers of incarcerated foreign-born individuals with criminal charges or convictions. Those deemed amenable to removal are identified while still secure in state or local custody, potentially reducing the time the alien spends in ICE custody. The state and local partners benefit by reducing the number of criminal offenders that are released back into the community without being screened for immigration violations. Gang members, sex offenders, and murderers are often identified and taken into ICE custody after serving their criminal sentences, thus being removed from the community. The efficiency and safety of the program allows ICE to actively engage criminal alien offenders while incarcerated in a secure and controlled environment as opposed to the alternative of conducting at-large arrests which can pose safety concerns for the officers and the community and may result in collateral arrests. Federal, state and local officers working together provide a tremendous benefit to public safety through increased law enforcement communication and overall community policing effectiveness.”


After the county pays tens of thousands of dollars to “audit” the Sheriff’s program, what will the results indicate? How can we interpret them?


Suppose the program costs $10 per year. What does that indicate? What if it costs $10,000? $100,000? $1,000,000? It will be like my apple scenario above. There will be inadequate information to make a rational assessment.


I don’t see our elected officials seeking the other side of the ledger, the cost of illegal immigrants in our county, especially the cost of criminal illegal immigrants in our county.


The new Butterfly Ridge elementary school cost well over $20 million. How much of that cost was due to the presence of illegal immigrants in our county? Our officials aren’t asking the question.


How many millions are spent each year on special teaching services for illegal immigrant children or the children of illegal immigrants? Our County officials aren’t asking that question.


How much of our welfare dollars are spent on illegal immigrants and their children?


How much money is our law enforcement expending due to the crimes of illegal immigrants?


What is the financial value of one of our children not being raped; one of our sons or daughters not being murdered by a Latino gang; one of our loved ones not being killed by an illegal immigrant drunk driver? We have enough home-grown drunks, thank you very much.


How much have Frederick County blue-collar wages dropped due to the supply of illegal immigrant labor? County officials aren’t asking that question.


In 1992, my Woodsboro home was built by English-speaking Americans. Today I can’t get a new refrigerator delivered without meeting someone born outside the USA.


Those Americans that built my house didn’t disappear. But their jobs at fair wages did disappear.


When the county issues its press release telling us how much the 287(g) program costs, we should demand that they assess how much the program saves, otherwise they will be giving us only half the story.


Thank you, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins for your incredible service to “We, the people.”


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