CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The Immigration and Customs Enforcement, mostly known as ICE, has responded just one day after Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden ended the 287(g) program that allowed ICE to operate within the Mecklenburg County Jail.
The voluntary federal program has allowed ICE to operate within the jail since 2006. According to the sheriff’s office, Mecklenburg was one of only 78 counties nationwide – out of more than 3,000 – that had the voluntary arrangement.
On Thursday, ICE Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher provided a statement in response to the decision.
Gallagher said the decision to end the program means residents should expect a more visible ICE presence in Charlotte.
The Mecklenburg County sheriff’s decision to restrict cooperation with ICE serves as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that Mecklenburg County is now a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities. In Fiscal Year 2018, the Mecklenburg County 287g program encountered 1,185 criminal aliens; yesterday’s decision to end this law enforcement agreement efforts leaves them to reoffend against the people of Mecklenburg County. Despite the challenges this decision creates, ICE remains committed to enforcing federal law, and this decision does not mean immigration enforcement will decrease in Mecklenburg County. In fact, residents should expect a more visible ICE presence in Charlotte, as ICE will now have no choice but to conduct more at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests instead of arrests at the jail where enforcement is safer for everyone involved.”
McFadden pledged he would end the program while he was running for office. The morning after being sworn in, he notified ICE he was doing just that.
Now that McFadden has put pen to paper Wednesday, 287g, which existed in Mecklenburg County for 12 years, is no more.
Activists claim the program targeted immigrants, sometimes using speeding tickets and misdemeanors, without proving guilt of the crimes. These rumors were repeatedly denied by outgoing sheriff Irwin Carmichael.
Back in May, a spokesperson told WBTV, an end to 287g could mean further enforcement.
They said since they wouldn’t encounter illegal immigrants in the jail system, they could seek them out once they have been released back into the community, and they wouldn’t turn a blind eye to others they encounter there, in the process.
McFadden says he’s received personal threats in response to the removal of the program from Mecklenburg County.
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