The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department has resumed its participation in a federal immigration enforcement program after authorities previously suspended the partnership with Lexington County.
The 287(g) program partners local law enforcement agencies with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – or ICE – and allows trained officers to perform certain immigration enforcement functions within the department’s jurisdiction, including checking the immigration status of inmates booked into the jail.
The partnership, originally established in 2010, was suspended by ICE in 2014 with the indictment of former Sheriff James Metts on charges that he took bribes so four restaurant workers could work instead of face deportation. Metts later pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to harbor and conceal illegal immigrants.
Deputies who are trained under the program work in the jail “identify and process for removal” any illegal immigrants in the county jail who fall within ICE’s civil immigration enforcement priorities, according to the memorandum of agreement with ICE signed by Sheriff Jay Koon.
Three counties in South Carolina operate in partnership with ICE for the 287(g) program: the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department, York County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.