A Haven for Criminal Aliens in Georgia

Investigative Reports |Press Releases

May 24, 2022

IRLI investigation reveals troubling data on a sheriff’s refusal to remove dangerous criminals

WASHINGTON—As America’s crime rate continues to rise, the problem of illegal alien crime has been made worse by progressive sheriffs who refuse to transfer custody of foreign nationals under arrest to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An investigation by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has found a glaring example of this problem in Georgia’s Gwinnett County.

Sheriff Keybo Taylor, a Democrat, was elected to his position in November 2020 – the first new sheriff in over two decades in the county ten miles northeast of Atlanta. During his campaign, he pledged to end Gwinnett County’s cooperation with ICE.

On his first day in office, he did just that, promptly ending the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department’s 287(g) program, which previously allowed the local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE in order to remove dangerous criminals  A major facet of the program is the ability of ICE to request a “hold” on individuals in participating law enforcement agency’s custody.

For years, Gwinnett County honored these hold requests, giving ICE agents time to arrive at their facility and take custody of the subject. Since Sheriff Taylor’s election, those not handed over to ICE are often released back into the community after posting bail.

IRLI’s investigation found that Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office honored ICE holds on a total of 1,652 individuals in 2020. In 2021, that number dwindled to 240 individuals, representing a more than 85 percent decrease in just one year.

IRLI also found a dramatic decrease in ICE holds for noncitizens accused of serious crimes. A total of 240 individuals handed over to ICE in 2020 were charged with felonies. The following year, the number of those charged with felonies and handed over to ICE plummeted to just 27.

“This data should outrage the residents of Gwinnett County,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Sheriff Taylor has kept his campaign promise, and it has made the county far more dangerous. Americans need to reject these woke sheriffs and their disastrous policies.”

Despite Taylor touting his creation of an anti-gang initiative, IRLI’s investigation of this data revealed that his office has likely helped numerous noncitizens in his community accused of gang-related crimes from being apprehended by ICE. 

“Sheriff Taylor has kept his campaign promise, and it has made the county far more dangerous. Americans need to reject these woke sheriffs and their disastrous policies.”

IRLI discovered that in 2020, a total of 31 individuals with drug trafficking charges – which included the trafficking of meth, heroin, cocaine, morphine, or opium – were handed over to ICE. The following year, that number dwindled down to just 4 individuals. The consequences of Taylor’s actions come as fentanyl-related overdoses are reportedly surging in the state of Georgia, and represent the number one cause of death for people between the ages of 18 and 45.

What’s happening in Gwinnett County carries national implications. Over 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, the most in recorded U.S. history.

While Taylor has promoted an anti-human trafficking program, the data out of Gwinnett County suggest his actions may have enabled those who commit a crime very prevalent in the human trafficking industry: rape. A total of 14 individuals charged with rape in 2020 were handed over to ICE (5 of those were specifically accused of statutory rape – which is rape against a minor). The following year, that number dropped to 2.

Of all the specific crimes investigated by IRLI, perhaps the most dramatic swing came from those charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. IRLI discovered that a total of 288 individuals charged with DUI were subjected to honored ICE holds in 2020. In 2021, that number plummeted to a grand total of 2 individuals – a more than 99 percent decrease.

The data from Gwinnett County also suggests the 287(g) program that was in place helped enable the transfer of illegal aliens accused of murder.

Gerson Survy, Saturnino Lopez Cardona, and Wilmer Mendez were all charged with the gruesome murder of a 20-year-old man in July 2020, allegedly stabbing him multiple times until he died. IRLI confirmed from the records provided by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office that all three individuals were handed over to ICE that year.

Jose Aldo Sanchez-Vasquez – described by authorities as a gang member – was arrested in August 2020 for the drive-by murder of a 70-year-old grandfather who was at his home for a family gathering. IRLI confirmed that this man was also handed over to ICE that year, when the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office was still in cooperation with the agency.

It’s not clear if any illegal aliens or other noncitizens were charged with murder in Gwinnett County in 2021, but IRLI can confirm that zero individuals charged with murder were subjected to ICE detainers honored by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

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