New Durham County sheriff vows his officers will not participate in ICE roundups

Durham County News

After being sworn in Monday, Clarence Birkhead is Durham County’s 13th sheriff.

While he’s new to the position, his stance on ICE is familiar territory.

“This is not new for me,” he said. “This is not a tough decision for me either.”

Birkhead tells CBS 17 his agency will not participate in ICE roundups for undocumented immigrants — a position he said he’s taken throughout his law enforcement career since 2006.

“It’s not something that I should be doing. I don’t think the citizens of Durham County want me to use their resources cooperating,” Birkhead said.

Birkhead has been closely watching the deportation of Samuel Oliver-Bruno, a Mexican man who took sanctuary in a Durham church for nearly a year. 

ICE officials detained Oliver-Bruno last month during an appointment at a government office. Birkhead feels ICE officials are going about their jobs the wrong way.

“Ripping families apart and catching people off guard, setting them up, that’s not what we’re about,” he said.

A spokesperson for ICE tells CBS 17 this could mean the community will see more ICE officers on the streets, if they aren’t allowed to do their jobs at the Durham County Detention Center.  

Birkhead told the crowd of supporters that if it’s not the law, he’s not enforcing it.

“I’ve already stated that we will not honor these warrant-less documents,” he said.

Birkhead tells CBS 17 he’s planning to meet with ICE officials this week so that both agencies have a clear understanding.

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