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Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office responds to claims of racist acts 

American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming

Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office was listed in a national report for racial profiling and anti-immigrant statements. But, the Sheriff's office unequivocally disputes this claim.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the report last week examining agencies enrolled in the 287 (g) program, which allows local and state law to assist in federal immigration issues.

Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office was included in the report for racial profiling, anti-immigrant statements and advocating for inhumane federal policies. The ACLU did not identify what actions led to these findings.

Jason Mower, the public relations officer for Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office, said the agency has not committed any of these offenses.

“This has nothing to do with Sweetwater County, and unfortunately, we're the victim of a political propaganda effort to attack strong, vocal incumbent Republican sheriffs across the country leading up to an election,” he said.

Sweetwater County has been part of the 287 (g) program since 2012. Mower said this involves detaining undocumented immigrants convicted of felony level crimes for up to 48 hours.”

The ACLU cites 287 (g) as a program that has led to violations of “civil rights, strong anti-immigrant rhetoric fueling racist practices, poor detention conditions and promotion of inhumane policies.” There are 142 state and local agencies nationwide that are enrolled in the program.

Mower said that he believes the agency was listed because the county’s Sheriff John Grossnickle openly opposes illegal immigration.

“He's a constitutional conservative. Both sides of his family immigrated to this country, but they did so legally,” Mower said. “So he's not opposed to immigration, but he's not going to apologize for being opposed to illegal immigration.”

The ACLU did not respond for comment.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.

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