Posted on January 5, 2021

New Gwinnett Sheriff Ends Controversial Immigration Program

Tamar Hallerman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 1, 2021

Gwinnett’s new sheriff canceled the county’s participation in a controversial immigration enforcement program early Friday, one of several major changes aimed at retooling the law enforcement culture in one of Georgia’s largest and most diverse counties.

Hours after being sworn in, Keybo Taylor announced that Gwinnett had left the 287(g) program, which deputizes state and local officials to help enforce federal immigration laws in local jails and state prison systems.


The new policies represent a sea change for a department that had been run for more than two decades by Republican Butch Conway, who did not seek reelection this year.

Taylor, a retired county police major, is Gwinnett’s first Black sheriff and first Democrat elected to the position since 1984.

On Friday he announced a team of deputies that is majority-minority and unveiled new anti-human trafficking and gang initiatives. {snip}


One of Taylor’s core campaign promises was to end the 287(g) program, which the Gwinnett sheriff’s office joined in 2009. The program grants state and local law enforcement officials the authority to check the immigration status of arrestees and detain them for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement when appropriate.

Supporters call it a “force multiplier” that helps deter illegal immigration and save money by deporting repeat offenders. Critics argue it’s discriminatory against people of color, splits up families and discourages immigrant communities from reporting crimes.

Nearly 5,000 undocumented people were identified in Gwinnett County among the nearly 25,000 encountered nationally under the program in the 2019 fiscal year, according to ICE figures released earlier this year.


Taylor said Gwinnett will no longer notify ICE of a person’s immigration status in the jail or other county facilities but clarified “it doesn’t mean that we will not have cooperation with ICE or any other law enforcement organization out here.”