By Tom Tillison
After five full business days, seven days in total, it’s beginning to appear that I may not be receiving a response from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, or Commissioners Pete Clark, Victoria Siplin and Emily Bonilla, in regard to Sheriff Jerry Demings’ ill-advised policy toward illegal immigrants.
Not that I am so easily deterred… I’ve sent each of the busy elected officials a follow up correspondence.
In response to WFTV reporting that Sheriff Demings will not enter into an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security on the enforcement of immigration laws, I sent each member of the Board of County Commissioners an email late last Thursday asking if they support the sheriff’s policy of not focusing on the immigration status of potential offenders encountered and what actions residents can expect them to take to affect that decision.
…a decision that effectively renders the criminal past of illegal immigrants encountered a non-factor if deputies have no probable cause to arrest them for an underlying offense.
The responses I did receive produced some enlightening information:
And to be clear, the issue at hand is not whether the sheriff is able to participated in a DHS program. It’s his existing policy of not taking into consideration the immigration status of potential suspects encountered on a day-to-day basis.
Ironically, Sheriff Demings told the Orlando Sentinel his “primary responsibility is to keep our community safe” while saying he’s too busy enforcing the law to… enforce the law.
“We have our hands full just enforcing laws here to keep our public safety in check in Orange County,” Demings said.
Though the family of Kate Steinle might feel otherwise, the sheriff doesn’t appear to see criminal aliens walking our streets as a safety issue. Or could it be that he places a higher priority on political expediency, if not for his own future electoral success, perhaps for his wife, Congresswoman Val Demings.
Ultimately, Sheriff Demings is accountable to Orange County voters, but being a Democrat in a county where his party holds a substantial lead in registered voters, the safety of our families falls into the hands of those elected at the county level, who will have to bring pressure to bear if there’s any hope of affecting the sheriff’s reckless policy.
It is a time for leadership from local elected officials who took an oath to protect and defend… and, sadly, that leadership has yet to surface.
Of course, a good start would be in responding to your constituents when petitioned on matters of importance to the community.