CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The Horry County Sheriff’s Office just began its partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through its 287(g) program.

Monday was the first day the program was implemented after three deputies went through extensive training. The 287(g) program uses local jails to enforce federal immigration laws. 

“There a lot of misconceptions in the general public about how someone can legally stay in the country,” said Intake Supervisor at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Lt. Sharon Myers. While she doesn’t speak on behalf of ICE, after four weeks of training she is now a part of the 287(g) program.

“You basically just learn every case is handled on a case by case basis,” said Myers about the training. “There are several databases that have info that we use as a resource to determine whether or not someone is legally in the country.”

Myers said the training also included learning about laws involving immigration, which are constantly changing. She said while the partnership is new, the jail has been screening people not born in the U.S. for years, but it took hours to process.

“Instead of us having that six to eight hour wait period to see if someone is legally in the country or is actually a citizen, we’re processing it. So basically we’re just cutting out the middle man,” added Myers.

In December, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said, “The reason I feel very strongly that we need this is to make sure our community is as safe as it can possibly be.”

He wanted to make sure everyone understands this is not a task force operations where deputies are looking for people on the street.

“The only way you get involved in this program is if you are charged with an offense and come into the detention center,” said Thompson.

Myers said since the program began on Monday, they have screened at least one person a day. Screening doesn’t mean the person is illegal, but does mean they were not born in the U.S. and went through the additional process.

Jail officials hope more deputies will be trained in the 287(g) program in the next few months. 

Below are the nine agencies in the Carolinas that have signed agreements with ICE:

North Carolina:

  • Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office
  • Gaston County Sheriff’s Office
  • Henderson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office
  • Wake County Sheriff’s Office

South Carolina

  • Charleston County Sheriff’s Office
  • Horry County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lexington County Sheriff’s Office
  • York County Sheriff’s Office