• Gwinnett Co. renews controversial immigration program


    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County has renewed a controversial immigration agreement with the federal government for the next three years. Since 2009, trained Gwinnett County deputies have been able to check the immigration status of anyone arrested under an agreement known as 287g.

    One local teenager told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh that the program is rounding up many of the wrong people. Paula de Lima Villafan, 19, thinks the program goes too far.

    "I've never been in trouble. I've never had a criminal record or anything and just for a misdemeanor I was about to get deported," she said.

    Villafan left Uruguay at age 4 with her family. She got into a fender bender in 2012 without a license, so she landed in jail. Then her deportation process began.

    "I had an officer who would check up on me to make sure I was here and make sure I didn't leave the state. I had an ankle monitor," she said.

    Many immigrants have gone through the same process.

    During a brief presentation to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night, Chief Deputy Mike Boyd touted 287g's success.

    "Over 20,000 interviews have been conducted, resulting in over 10,000 detainers being placed, representing over 22,000 crimes and offenses," he said.

    The commissioners voted unanimously to renew the 287g contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

    The agency's website says this program has resulted in the deportation of thousands of convicted criminals.

    Villafan fought her deportation and qualified for deferred action, earning a temporary license, work permit and Social Security number.

    But Villafan wants her elected officials to consider those getting caught up in the system for traffic-related offenses.

    "They're just like me," she said.

    Channel 2 Action News tried to speak to the sheriff's department about the success and criticism of the program but was told the sheriff was out of town.

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