The program could begin as early as October under terms of a resolution approved unanimously by the commission after a tense discussion.
The resolution gives Conway the 18 positions he said he needed to begin the program, but requires that he trim vacancies in the department to 12 and have deputies enrolled in the training course for the federal immigration program before the positions are authorized. The department currently has nearly 40 openings.
“We’re ready to go,” Conway said. “I just needed the commitment, and I wasn’t getting that until today.”
The program has become a political issue between Commission Chairman Charles Bannister and Commissioner Lorraine Green, who has announced plans to challenge him in the July Republican primary.
Bannister has urged a cautious approach to the immigration program, saying he supports it but that the county’s budget is in a fragile state and that he would prefer to allocate money as the need arises.