Supervisors Hold Off Vote on Controversial Immigration Law

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

Opponents of a controversial immigration law outnumbered the empty seats at the Rockingham County board of supervisors.

Under a law called 287G, local officers work closely with immigration authorities to identify illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes.

If convicted under this law, illegal immigrants could face deportation.

287G opponent Isabel Castillo asked the board to stop this program.

She said many people have been deported for small offenses.

"This program is bad for police and community relationships, bad for the trauma and the fear it causes, bad for victims of crime and bad for contributing to jail overcrowding," Castillo said.

This program had already expired in Rockingham County but Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson asked for an extension until immigration authorities update the current rules.

"What I point out is all they're asking us here is to extend it for two months and then review the plan that they will submit to us for further consideration," Hutcheson said.

Board members didn't take any action tonight so the program will not continue.

Chairman Bill Kyger said this should be handled by the federal government.

"It's gone on too long, it has be to be addressed. Local government we don't have the constitutional authority to do that, the state doesn't have the authority to do that. It's a federal issue and Washington needs to deal with it," Kyger said.

Michael Snell-Feikema is happy with the board's decision. He said illegal immigrants are already victims and a program like this makes it worse.

"To further victimize them by tearing apart their families and criminalize them, I just think it's wrong. They have a right to live and to feed their families and they're doing what they can to do that," Snell-Feikema said.

For David Briggman it's important to secure our borders.

"I think the board of supervisors did a strong disservice to the citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County by failing to extend the contract for two more months," Briggman said.

Federal immigration authorities will lay out another version of this law in December.

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