Image by Flickr user Gìpics
Charleston County detention officers began screening inmates as part of a federal program this year, and thus far, 546 illegal aliens have been flagged for deportation.
To ease concerns, sheriff's officials are making efforts to talk with Hispanic residents to explain the program, which is focused only on immigrants who have already been arrested for crimes. However, the president of the Latino Association of Charleston claims her phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from local Hispanics upset or fearful of the program.
Currently, Charleston County jail is the only detention center in the state conducting the checks.
So what happens once you're flagged? All of the flagged immigrants get a chance to plead their cases before a federal immigration judge. Those found guilty of crimes must serve their sentences before being deported, but those who choose to leave voluntarily can be shipped home to their native country in as little as a week's time if no criminal charges are pending.
The Post and Courier has a very informative post on the screening program, results and reactions; read it here.