Our VoiceCulture

NC Sheriffs Use Justice Dept Funds to Attend FAIR Border School


Domenic Powell • Jul 20, 2012

NC Sheriffs Johnson (left) and Page (right)

North Carolina Sheriffs Terry Johnson (R-Alamance) and Sam Page (R-Rockingham) found a way around the denial of federal reimbursement funds for a “border school” in El Paso, Texas run by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), according to documents passed on to Imagine2050 by North Carolina activists.

Hatewatch, the blog of the Southern Poverty Law Center, discovered that FAIR misled law enforcement officers around the country by inviting them to their border school under the guise that it had been approved by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. Rafael Lemaitre, the associate director for public affairs of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (which oversees the HIDTA program), told Hatewatch: “In no way is the ‘border school’ sanctioned, co-hosted, or endorsed by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program.”

Johnson and Page, however, are utilizing funds from the Department of Justice to pay their way to El Paso. Page, a staunch advocate of the Secure Communities program and regular attendee of FAIR events, requested and received permission to use funds from the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) of the Department of Justice to go to the FAIR event.

After seeing Page’s success, Johnson followed suit. Earlier this week, Johnson brought the DOJ approval letter to Page before the Alamance county commission to receive funds for his own trip. Johnson lists the source of funds for the trip as “Federal Asset Forfeiture money” on the out of state travel request form delivered to the county commission.

Adding another level of absurdity to the situation is the fact that DOJ has both an ongoing investigation against Johnson for racial profiling and a civil lawsuit against him for interfering with the investigation. Imagine2050 left a message with the AFMLS for comment, but has not received a response by the time of writing.

Click here to watch a video of Terry Johnson lamenting the Hispanic population growth in North Carolina while speaking at a FIRE Coalition event.

Both sheriffs are in regular attendance of the Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy, a temporary body in the NC legislature led by the most anti-immigrant legislators in the state’s government. The body has been met with strong opposition from NC activists. After initially not allowing public comment, the body was forced to allow public input after several undocumented youth disrupted the meeting by declaring their immigration status loudly to the legislators.

According to Alamance county activists in attendance, the commission approved the trip unanimously and without discussion. Maybe they ought to take a second look, as should the Department of Justice.

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