CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – Billboards of convicted criminals are popping up across Charlotte interstates as U.S. Immigration and Customs officials say they’re trying to warn residents about immigration violators in neighborhoods.
However, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff says that’s just not true.
The digital billboards are hard to miss on I-485 near Dixie River Road, they say ‘WANTED’ and have pictures of people ICE says have immigration violations and have been arrested on other charges.
The words ICE also wants people to see are: “Released by Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.”
“People simply believe I am releasing these people out of jail on my own decision, that is not true,” Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said.
McFadden was elected in 2018 on the platform he would eliminate 287(g), a program where ICE would train sheriff deputies to take illegal immigrants into custody.
Currently, McFadden doesn’t honor ICE’s request to detain illegals, unless they get a signed criminal warrant.
“I know your job is to protect the community, how are you not putting people at risk by potentially putting dangerous people out there?” WJZY reporter Robin Kanaday asked the sheriff.
“Again, the sheriff does not put people out there. The person has a bond. Then they meet the criteria of their bond, it is that point that a judge or a magistrate says that person is supposed to be released,” McFadden said.
WJZY did a ride along with ICE about a month and a half ago.
Thomas Giles, the ICE Field Officer Director out of Atlanta responded then to Sheriff McFadden’s decision not to honor ICE detainers.
“We’re not asking him to do our job. We’re just asking him to turn over these individuals once their criminal time is done,” Giles said.
ICE also told WJZY these billboards were up in several other locations, one on I-77 and another on I-85 near Billy Graham Parkway, but we checked and did not see those billboards around mid-day Tuesday.
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