On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – host Leahy welcomed Rockingham County, North Carolina’s Sheriff of 20 years, Samuel ‘Sam’ Page to the show to speak about illegal immigration and how it’s affecting his county and those across the nation.
In the second hour, Page described how many people are being forced into prostitution through human trafficking to pay off their debt to smugglers in a form of modern-day slavery offering freedom in the United States they may never see. He went on to state that the ICE and border patrol agents need the support of American citizens and urged them to contact their state representatives to encourage that support.
Leahy: We are joined now by Samuel ‘Sam’ Page. The Sheriff of Rockingham County North Carolina. Welcome, Sheriff Page.
Page: Thank you. Good to be here.
Leahy: We’re delighted to have you hear. This whole radio row here is sponsored by the Federation for American for immigration reform and as a Sheriff in Rockingham county your obviously experiencing immigration issues. Tell us first a little bit about Rockingham county. Where is it? And how big is it?
Page: Ok. We’re a small county. 92,000 population. We’re located about 25 miles south of Virginia and we’re about 25 miles north of Greensboro. I say we’re in a great spot. We’ve got the mountains to the West and the mountains to the east. We don’t get a lot of hurricanes up our way. We live in a great place. About 565 sq. miles. For North Carolina, it’s a good-sized little community.
Leahy: How long have you been Sheriff there?
Page: I just finished my 20th year this past year.
Leahy: 20 years? They must like you there.
Page: I hope so. (Laughter)
Leahy: Danville, Virginia was for the last week of May 1865 was briefly the capital of the confederacy.
Page: It was the last capital of the confederacy yes sir.
Leahy: There are old legends about Jefferson Davis being there with a bunch of gold. And running off and burying it. Have you followed any of those legends?
Page: Haven’t followed that. But I know a little bit about it. I do know it was the last capital of the confederacy. Again, some of their kin people live near the Danville area and stuff like that.
Leahy: Ok. Let’s talk about immigration. How is illegal immigration a problem for you in Rockingham county, North Carolina?
Page: Well if you’re talking numbers, since 2010 we first started the secure communities federal program. We’ve processed roughly about 357 persons that were criminally charged illegally living in our county.
Leahy: For a population of 92,000, that’s a pretty big number.
Page: Right, and you know the key offense, the most prevalent offense is DWI and then followed by assaults. And then we also have the drug charges. But when I first got involved about 10 years ago going out to the border area to see for myself and self educate what’s going on at the border and how that impacts us.
Really what I was looking at was not only illegal immigration. But I was looking at human trafficking and the drug trafficking and the human smuggling aspect. And how that works and how a person can get into the United States and then how they end up in my county or other counties across the country and those impacts.
What I look at is how many people will die this year due to heroin overdoses and fentanyl overdoses. That’s the stuff I look at. Or how many people may be trafficked into my county.
Leahy: Let’s go to all of those. Are you having people trafficked into your county engaged in…
Page: I think it’s happening in about any county in the United States. It’s just you have to train your staff. You have to train your deputies and your police officers to recognize. You also have to communicate and educate the public to recognize what is human trafficking and what to look for. Because a lot of times it’s right there in plain sight.
Leahy: What are the crimes involved in human trafficking?
Page: I’ll give you a good example. Down in Burlington which is Alamance county just to my east. Just before they came up there they had a big operation on a prostitution sting and tied into human trafficking. But a lot of times when you’re in sex crimes or those type of crimes or the prostitution you’ll see persons that are brought into through the trafficking aspect.
They have made numerous arrests on that end. They’re right on the interstate. And that’s another thing. We have some of the greatest highways in the country and across North Carolina but also they are a pipeline whether persons are smuggling or trafficking persons and also drugs.
Leahy: Does this happen at truck stops mostly? Or where does it happen?
Page: It could. Or your hotel environments something like this. And I think they’ve picked up more on the solicitation side but again a lot of persons that are trafficked are brought into the prostitution side. That’s what we see I think across the country.
Leahy: And that’s a pretty sad situation for them. There’s no way out.
Page: It is. Well, think about it. If a person pays $6,000 dollars to smuggle somebody in…
Leahy: They’ve got to work it out.
Page: And they’ve got to work it out.
Leahy: (Inaudible talk)
Leahy: Tell us a little bit more about what citizens can do on the issue of immigration enforcement.
Page: If you see something say something. A lot of times something doesn’t look right. You see a person that is living with someone but they feel like they can’t talk and they’re being restricted in their communications. Or the way they’re being handled by someone or something like this. They very well could be a person in a situation of involuntary servitude or someone that’s being trafficked.
Leahy: Involuntary servitude. It’s almost like modern-day slavery.
Page: It is. “It is a good example of modern-day slavery.” Persons that are basically, like we were talking about earlier. A person pays $6,000 or $8,000 dollars to come to the United States and they’ve got to continue to work off that freedom that they paid for.
It may not come. And of course in bad environments of prostitution which a lot of times with that incorporates drug activity also and violence. And you may not make it. That dream of freedom may not come.
Leahy: Yes. It’s a very rough deal. Now you were telling me earlier that you actually went to the border in 2014 and have gone more recently. What have you seen differently in that period of time?
Page: First of all, I’d like to give a little thanks to FAIR, the Federation of American Immigration Reform. I met some of the representatives back in 2010 when I first went out to the border in Arizona. I just wanted to see how the drug trafficking routes and how that starts there in the Tuscon sector and then how the drugs end up in our communities. What’s changed? Well, I’ve gone down to McAllen, Texas in 2014…
Leahy: Right on the border.
Page: Right on the border. During the border surge of 2014. And there were a lot of people. We went to the border patrol stations and saw the persons being processed and it was not as bad as it is now. It may have had over 100,000 persons come over our border.
I don’t see how not increasing the numbers of border patrol agents and now providing the support that they should have, I don’t see how they do it. I don’t see how they get the job done. But it reaffirms to me that we in America that we need to call our Congressmen and our Senators and our Representatives and tell them they need to support the ICE agents and border patrol agents. They’re doing their jobs to protect America.
Leahy: Now politically in your county, is it more rural or really suburban. How would you describe it?
Page: Outside the city it’s rural.
Page: Again, I think it’s pretty much a conservative county I’d say.
Leahy: We were talking about the difference between being a Sheriff in an urban county and being in a rural county. In an urban county, there’s huge political pressure from the left and the Democrats to basically not comply with the law. Do you see any of that in your area?
Page: No. I do see that around me in some of your cities. But when I talk to other Sheriff’s I say, “I can’t think of any elected official that took an oath that wouldn’t want to serve and protect and remove an identified criminal offender from your community.”
You know we were talking about due process. Participation or secure communities process. But the main thing is when we get persons that in our jail that are self-identified by arrest and determine they are not native-born, we notify ICE and begin the process. And if you’re a criminal offender and you’re in our country illegally that’s the perfect time you should be removed by law.
Leahy: If you were sitting across the table from President Trump this morning rather than me…
Page: It would be a great honor. (Laughter) It’d be a great honor.
Leahy: What would you tell him is the number one thing that you’d like to see from the federal government done differently?
Page: First of all, I’d let the President know that as always, Mr. President, we support you. We’ve got your back. You’re doing a great job. We’re seeing something we haven’t seen in many years. Support, from the White House down. The thing I would say to him is, we’ve got to encourage some strong conversations with Senators and our representatives to support the President and his efforts to protect America and put Americans first and protect America starting with our sovereign borders. Because a country that doesn’t define its borders and doesn’t know who’s coming in and out of the country, won’t last very long.
Listen to the full hour:
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