With a crackdown on immigration in Arizona and talk of a fresh effort in Washington for federal reform, Congressman Gresham Barrett, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, talked with the Charleston City Paper on Tuesday after a tour of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in North Charleston.
The local FLETC is training officers from across the country as part of a resource-sharing program between local and state law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Earlier this month, six Charleston County officers graduated from the program.
"It's a way for South Carolina to take charge and get these criminals off the street," says Barrett.
A part of the program since 2008, Beaufort County has five sheriff's deputies trained and commissioned as ICE agents. As part of that effort, federal prosecutors announced the arrest last month of 15 illegal aliens in Beaufort County in a raid on two Chinese restaurants and five homes.
Barrett says he'd like to see South Carolina expand the ranks of these officers to address the immigration issue.
It's not clear yet what a new immigration reform bill will look like, but Barrett says he opposes any attempt at amnesty and would rather focus on border security, something he thinks the federal government hasn't addressed in recent years.
Currently on a statewide jobs tour, Barrett also talked about the importance of having the federal training facility here in Charleston and the potential for better utilizing it as a resource for nearby state and military installations.
"This is a tremendous asset right here in Charleston," he said.