6 hours, 6 miles, 140 pilgrims
Today the Holy Spirit felt like a blistery wind that accompanied us along the entire route that took us around the county seat of Gwinnett County, Lawrenceville. Gwinnett County would like to become the fourth county in Georgia and only the 68th law enforcement agency in the nation to participate in the 287(g) program. Named after a section of the federal immigration law, 287(g) grants state and local enforcement the authority to investigate, detain and arrest illegal immigrants on civil and criminal grounds.
However, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report questioned the program’s effectiveness. GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, reported that authorities failed to determine how many of the thousands of people deported under the program were the kind of violent felons it was devised to root out. Instead of nabbing immigrants who commit violent felonies, 287(g) is being used to deport hundreds and thousands of immigrants whose worst crime is often only driving unlicenseable.
However, even given the increased scrutiny and the misguided use of the initial intent of the program, Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway is determined to enter the 287(g) program. So it was within this context that 140 of us marched right up to Sheriff Conway’s office and lifted our voices and our prayers. It was touching to see folks kneeling in prayer facing the Sheriff’s headquarters. It was encouraging to hear pastors and priests speak against the injustices they witness as they regularly visit jails. So we sang, we prayed, we knelt, we cried out for the God of justice to make the government’s places of justice live up to their name. May it be so…