Two Counties Discuss Enforcing Immigration Laws With Community Deputies

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) – Two local counties are in agreements with Immigration and the Department of Homeland Security to deputize local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law.

Benton and Washington counties are two of the 37 counties in the nation that participate in the 287 G program through immigration and customs enforcement or ICE.

People came to the Washington County Sheriff's Office Tuesday (Aug. 15) to let their voices be heard.

Michel Rangel is the deputy director for Arkansas United Community Coalition. She said she deals with people who are negatively affected by this policy. She said Springdale and Rogers Police Departments are making an effort to reach out to the community to let people know they can be trusted and they are safe.

“But, when you know at the end of the day when you are booked into a county jail, you will be flagged for ICE just by the charge of a crime, not by the conviction that makes us very anxious,” she said.

Denice Nelson is a retired Fayetteville teacher and came to the meeting to speak on behalf of children and their families.

“In Northwest Arkansas, we should be providing schools where kids and families are kept together and not separated and not living in fear that one of their parents may be picked up for some minor petty reason,” she said.

Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder said they don't want people to live in fear and want people to communicate when they are in need. He said he knows he's not making everyone happy, but thinks it's the right thing to do.

“In my world it's not always easy to do that right thing. I think if I lean totally to the compassionate side of Tim Helder, man we'd be out of the 287 G program and we'd legalize everybody, but that's just not reality,” he said.

Arkansas United Community Coalition celebrated the fifth anniversary of DACA Tuesday(Aug. 15) or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at their resource center in Springdale. They are using this as an opportunity to call on Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to retract her decision to resend DACA by Sept. 5th.