Arrests in Alamance protest

April 8, 2009 5:15:14 PM PDT
Two years ago, Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson opened a new jail partially to house illegal immigrants apprehended through the 287(g) program.287(g) allows local law enforcement officers to screen legal residency, and deputies started making arrests.

The policy has been highly controversial with both sides of the immigration debate weighing in.

Wednesday, critics and backers of the Alamance sheriff took to the street. Supporters of Johnson's tough stance on illegal immigration lined up as he shook their hands. Protesters marched 3 miles to the Alamance County Jail.

"I'm all for legal immigration. But we should still uphold our immigration laws," said sheriff supporter Randy Dye.

But the sheriff's opponents say parents have been separated from children solely because of immigration violations. And the protests come as an Elon University professor has discovered the sheriff is undercounting the number of Latino traffic stops his officers make.

In the past, Johnson has told county commissioners that his deputies made less than 500 Latino traffic stops over the past five years. But, the state's Administrative Office of the Courts said Alamance deputies actually cited more than 1,300 Latinos.

Johnson told Eyewitness News that his deputies are not using racial profiling and they're not targeting Latinos on the street.

"What we're doing is pulling every ticket and hand-counting everything," he said.

Wednesday's protests stayed peaceful, but protestors dressed like immigration officers and the Statue of Liberty blocked the jail door by sitting on the sidewalk were arrested. Seven people in all face charges.


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