Berks County Commissioners (from left) Kevin Barnhardt, Mark Scott, Christian Leinbach photo via mediatrackers
In a March 16th post in this blog, I discussed Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht’s plan to apply to the 287(g) program which would train local law enforcement officers to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. However, in a meeting this past Thursday, County Commissioner Christian Leinbach essentially asked, “What's the deal?” Leinbach has questions regarding part of the 287(g) program which allows officers to place detainers on individuals found to be undocumented but not charged with other crimes that warrant holding in order for those individuals to be picked up by ICE agents. Commissioner Leinbach says he will not sign off on the plan until he gets answers to those questions in a meeting he’s attending this week in Washington. The main concern appears to revolve around the legality of the detainer and several court rulings that have upheld that the detainer is “a request, not an order”. Leinbach cited the National Association of Counties (NACo) which said "detainers do not have the force of law behind them" and noted that other counties have been sued for acting on the detainers. Leinbach’s fellow commissioners have already weighed in on the issue. Mark Scott is in favor of joining the 287(g) program, saying that illegal immigrants are a burden on human services in the county, including the Reading School District. Kevin Barnhardt is opposed to the measure. Even Sheriff Weaknecht has begun to "reshuffle" as more information on the program is presented. He now says that he wants the ICE-trained officers working only in central processing and that Commissioner Leinbach’s concerns have caused him to “put his plan on hold”. Looks like Christian Leinbach will be holding all the cards.
Read more on this issue: Berks commissioner addresses ICE initiative by Dawn Wivell
and Berks County sheriff's plan to work with federal immigration officials is on hold by Dan Kelly
posted by Amy Levengood