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Northeast Nebraska sheriff will push for immigration reform in D.C.

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Kleinberg Dakota County Jail

Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg, shown in a file photo, pushed Wednesday to temporarily close the county courthouse in Dakota City. The county commissioners agreed to closing the building to the public for three days. With the county jail located in the courthouse, Kleinberg said complete "isolation" is the only way to ensure no people with coronavirus enter and possibly spread it to patrons, county employees or jail inmates.

SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg will join nearly 50 sheriffs in a Washington, D.C. event Wednesday to push for immigration policy reforms.

In one of the key pieces, the sheriffs on Capitol Hill will urge Congress to act on pending legislation to increase border security. Later in the day, the sheriffs will participate in a roundtable discussion at the White House with administration officials and policymakers.

Kleinberg in a statement said there is "urgency" to update immigration laws.

“It is our intention to tell Congress that their failure to deal with this issue for 20 years has made our communities less safe and has undermined our promise to the people who elected us to keep them safe. In addition to our responsibility to protect the people and property of our county, we also have an obligation to fiscal responsibility. The burden of the local tax base is affected by the lack of reform in this area," Kleinberg said.

He said the key is to identify "strategies to more easily identify criminal illegal aliens, and explore ways to expand and protect our valuable and critically important relationships with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners."

In late 2017, the Dakota County Sheriff's Office asked federal officials for permission to deputize jailers to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

The sheriff's office was the first agency in Nebraska and one of only 60 nationwide to apply for a federal program known as 287(g). The program authorizes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to allow officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions after the officers complete specialized training.

The program allows correction officers to act as ICE agents to decide what actions need to be taken for both illegal immigrants and legal refugees, those with work visas and those with a green card when they are arrested.

The Unity in Action, a local Latino advocacy agency, and the Winnebago Tribe by early 2018 had opposed Dakota County joining the program. Kleinberg has learned the department's application for the program had been accepted.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Kleinberg was awaiting an answer from the federal government to join 287(g).

Copyright 2018 The Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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