District part of deportation program

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor announced Thursday that the 11th District will become the first area in the nation to undertake a regional approach to the arrest and the deportation of illegal aliens.

Taylor recently met with a group of local law enforcement officers from counties across the district and officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program about the cooperative program.

Under the program, federal ICE personnel would train local law officers in enforcement of deportation laws and guidelines.

North Carolina has the eighth-largest illegal alien population in the country. The state experienced a 58 percent increase in its foreign-born population between 2000 and 2005.

"A concerted effort to secure our borders must be the foundation for any comprehensive immigration reform," Taylor said in a news release. "But we must also act quickly when illegal aliens who have broken our laws are arrested. This regional approach will help get the people who ignore our laws out of the country more quickly."

The 11th District is a large rural area consisting of the western-most 15 counties of the state. The eight-county pilot program includes Henderson, Buncombe, Polk, Rutherford, Madison, McDowell, Transylvania and Yancey counties.

"This will allow us to enforce the laws that are already on the books," said Rutherford County Sheriff Philip Byers. "We welcome legal immigrants but want to deal with those who break the laws to get here and especially those who sell drugs, drive without licenses and commit other crimes while here."

Once the regional program in the initial eight counties is established, the other seven counties in the district will be phased into the program.

Taylor has introduced a three-point plan in the House that includes securing the nation's borders, establishing a rapid visa program to allow companies to quickly bring needed workers into the country in a legal manner and rejecting amnesty for the 12 million to 20 million people who are here illegally.