Sheriff Brad Freeman displays fake identify cards the sheriff’s office has confiscated over the years from suspected illegal aliens. (Photo/Will Davis)

Monroe County deputies arrested 58 illegal aliens in 2018, and sheriff Brad Freeman said federal authorities are increasingly willing to take them off the county’s hands for deportation.

“There’s been a lot of progress,” said Freeman.

Freeman, who took office in January but has been with the sheriff’s office for 30 years, said they’ve seen a marked improvement in federal attitudes toward addressing the problem since President Trump took office.

While federal law gives the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) the main responsibility of enforcing immigration laws, Monroe County’s 26 miles of interstate means local deputies frequently come across illegal aliens themselves. Readers of the Reporter note the many Hispanics in the weekly arrest report who are driving without a license, sometimes an indication that they’re illegal aliens.

But Freeman said his deputies actually see fewer illegals than they used to. The sheriff noted that when Plant Scherer was hiring scores of workers to add environmental controls in 2007, there were so many illegals on the property that “it wasn’t even funny”. Back then, said Freeman, ICE was not impressed if deputies called to report they had stopped some illegals.

“You could call ICE and say ‘I’ve got five illegals in this care.’ They’d say well we’re not gonna pick them up,” said Freeman.

Freeman still has a big collection of fake ID cards confiscated from illegals from when he was over the road patrol. But as illegals learned that the U.S. would not deport them anyway, fewer and fewer of them even bothered carrying fake ID cards. 

The only thing that seemed to stem the tide of illegals, said Freeman, was the crash of the construction market in 2008. Those jobs disappeared, and so did many of the illegals. 

While the economy has finally rebounded, Freeman said his deputies still aren’t seeing the surge in illegals that border counties are seeing. But for those they do catch, including the 58 arrested last year, usually on traffic charges, Freeman said it’s becoming increasingly likely that the feds will actually do something about it, especially if they have a criminal record.

Last month, Monroe County judge Bill Fears sentenced an illegal alien to 25 years in prison for dealing meth. Freeman said he doesn’t know what will happen to the alien. But he said if it was up to him, he’d deport him to his home country and save Georgia taxpayers the high cost of incarceration. 

Freeman said his deputies aren’t immigration cops, but said they can do their part to uphold the law of the land.

“No sanctuary city here, buddy,” said Freeman.