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Supporter defends Hawkins after 287(g) critic demands he resign

Grady Hawkins Grady Hawkins

George Pappas, an immigration lawyer, has been demanding that Henderson County stop cooperating with federal customs enforcement officers by holding undocumented inmates who are subject to being deported.

Pappas says the federal detainers under the 287(g) agreement, which Sheriff Lowell Griffin renewed in June, unlawfully deprive the undocumented inmates of due process. Pappas quoting a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case, Zadydas v. Davis, that said “the Due Process Clause applies to all persons within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence is lawful, temporary or permanent.”

Pappas has been urging the Board of Commissioners and Griffin to pull out of the 287(g) process. But last month, he went further, calling on Commissioner Rebecca McCall and board Chair Grady Hawkins to resign for “having failed to uphold your oath of office to protect citizens and non-citizens under the U.S. Constitution.” Hawkins had said in a previous meeting that people here illegally are not “privy” to the Constitution. McCall said, “Why should we ignore our own laws for the immigrants?”
The remarks mean that Hawkins and McCall “must resign,” Pappas said, and those board members “who remain silent in the face of this unconstitutional and dark episode in Henderson County, must also resign.”
It was all too much for Dick Kranker, a first generation American and U.S. Navy veteran who also is a Grady Hawkins supporter. After reading a news account of Pappas’s broadside, Kranker came to the Board of Commissioners meeting to make a public defense of Hawkins as a military hero and “model citizen.”
“I want to set Mr. Pappas and the record straight,” Kranker said. An Asheville native and graduate of Enka High School, Hawkins holds a math degree from UNC and masters’ degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.
“During 25 years of active duty in the United States Air Force he was base commander of Mather Air Force Base,” Kranker said. “He commanded the 455th Flying Training Squadron and has been awarded a master instructor certificate. Col. Hawkins holds a triple aeronautical rating of command pilot, navigator and bombardier.
“Assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing, 8th Tactical Bombardment Squadron in Vietnam, he flew more than 300 combat missions. He’s a command pilot with a career total of over 4,000 flying hours, including 770 hours of combat time. Col. Hawkins also served in the Philippines and Korea. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with 19 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with device.
“Grady Hawkins served our country for over 25 years and our county for many years. He’s approaching his 16th year as a county commissioner as well as having served multiple boards, committees and trusteeships, upholding his constitutional duties throughout. He’s an American hero and a model citizen. Failed to uphold his oath of office? Mr. Pappas cannot be more wrong.”
Kranker, 88, has been active in Republican Party politics and is a member along with Hawkins of the Roundtable, a group of conservative veterans that meets to talk about civic affairs and current politics. After he read that Pappas demanded Hawkins' resignation, "I looked him up. This is a guy who really supports illegals," he said. "If i read it right he was complaining about half of what Grady said. Grady said, 'I guess we'll leave it up to the courts,' but that's not what he was attacking him for."

“I was kind of taken by surprise,” Hawkins said of Kranker's public statement of support. Kranker got a copy of the biographical sketch used to introduce Hawkins when he delivered the keynote address for this year's Memorial Day ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery. “I was kind of taken aback but I appreciated it,” Hawkins said.