Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney got to go to Washington D.C. as part of the representation of sheriffs from all over the nation for a Secure Borders and Safe Communities conference last week.
“The focus of it was border security and immigration and what they called ‘Fair immigration reform’” he said. “We had a chance to meet with and do Q and A sessions with a lot of the cabinet, a lot of high level officials."
With more than 188 sheriffs across the United States, the groups got to meet with several high officials.
“We’re not talking a 30 minute meeting, we’re talking about something that could last two hours with Q and A sessions,” McKinney said. “To kind of give us an idea which way the current administration was headed towards a fair immigration policy which we as sheriffs are in agreeance with.”
Some of the sessions were with:
Kellyanne Conway, Assistant to the President; Theo Wold the Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Matthew Albence acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Robert E. Perez, deputy commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS); Uttam Dhillon, Acting Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Tom Murphy, State & Local Affairs Coordinator for the Office of Drug Control Policy.
McKinney said the Oklahoma sheriffs got to meet with Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford on a more intimate basis.
“The number one priority is border security — we can all remember 9/11, some of those people came across our border without being caught,” he said. “Now there’s a plethora of drugs entering our country without a doubt. We talked to the men that’s right there at the border … what they are seeing at the border, we know about the opipiod epidemic, even here in Stephens County.”
The main question on law enforcements’ minds was easy.
“Our big thing was as sheriffs that we wanted … what is the federal movement going to do to help us protect our states, to protect our counties and protect our people as we are sworn to,“ he said. “This put a big light on everything that is in the making and we are all 100 percent behind it.”
McKinney said for people who want to become legal citizens “the right way” was something most people want, and he hopes some of that red tape is cleared up to help streamline the process.
“Anything worth having is worth working for,” he said.
What was more frustrating was the lack of movement on these items.
“It’s very common sense — none of us, including people who live in this county, sleep with their doors open at night,” McKinney said. “What makes people think we can trust everybody and let everybody run back a forth through our country whether it be the northern or southern border. There’s going to be people with evil intentions that’s why we lock our doors.”
McKinney also said while he understood that many people were seeking asylum, which they are allowed to do, he found out the law states they must ask the first country they come to, not which country they want.
“It was an honor to represent the people of Stephens County in our nation’s capitol this week. President Trump has done more for law enforcement in our great country than any President I can remember,” McKinney said. “He has made it possible for us to get things for us to do our jobs effectively.”