7 NC may­ors: ICE raids have ter­ror­ized com­mu­ni­ties

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY DAWN BAUMGARTNER VAUGHAN [email protected]­ald­sun.com

Seven North Car­olina may­ors have a signed a let­ter con­demn­ing the ICE raids in the state that led to the ar­rest of over 200 im­mi­grants.

In a let­ter writ­ten by Durham Mayor Steve Schewel and signed by six other may­ors, they called for the end to Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment raids.

“The ICE raids have struck ter­ror in the hearts of many of our val­ued com­mu­nity mem­bers. They have bro­ken apart fam­i­lies, sep­a­rat­ing par­ents from their chil­dren,” the let­ter says.

Along with Schewel, oth­ers who signed the let­ter are Asheville Mayor Es­ther Man­heimer, Burling­ton Mayor Ian Bal­tutis, Car­rboro Mayor Ly­dia Lavelle, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hem­minger, Greens­boro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Fayet­teville Mayor Mitch Colvin.

“We can­not stop ICE from op­er­at­ing in our cities, but we can and must speak out against these raids which desta­bi­lize neigh­bor­hoods, trau­ma­tize chil­dren, hurt many in­no­cent peo­ple, and cre­ate dis­trust of law en­force­ment. The neg­a­tive col­lat­eral con­se­quences of these raids on our cities is enor­mous,” the let­ter says.

The may­ors said that more than 230 peo­ple were ar­rested dur­ing the raids over the past week, call­ing the raids “detri­men­tal to the wel­com­ing, sta­ble, lov­ing com­mu­ni­ties that we work ev­ery day to build.”

In a news con­fer­ence last week, ICE At­lanta Field Of­fice Di­rec­tor Sean Gal­lagher called ICE ac­tions the “new nor­mal,” The News & Ob­server pre­vi­ously re­ported.

“If they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, my of­fi­cers will take an en­force­ment ac­tion,” Gal­lagher said.

The North Car­olina may­ors said most of the ar­rests oc­curred in coun­ties where sher­iffs have ended the prac­tice of ICE de­tain­ers – hold­ing im­mi­grants charged with crimes and who are in the coun­try il­le­gally for 48 hours be­yond the time they would legally be al­lowed to be re­leased, such as by post­ing bail.

“This is the pre­rog­a­tive of our sher­iffs, and they have ex­er­cised it wisely to help our com­mu­ni­ties live free from fear,” the let­ter says.

New sher­iffs in Durham, Wake and Meck­len­burg coun­ties are among those who no longer honor de­tain­ers.

Durham County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Chair Wendy Jacobs read a state­ment on be­half of the board about ICE on Mon­day, dur­ing the com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing.

Jacobs said the county strongly con­demns ICE’s re­cent ac­tion in Durham that af­fected at least six fam­i­lies.

“These ac­tions by ICE do not serve to make the Durham com­mu­nity safer,” she said. “In fact, they serve to ter­ror­ize the im­mi­grant and Lat­inx com­mu­nity in Durham to the point that it makes our com­mu­nity less safe.”

The Durham County com­mis­sion­ers’ state­ment also sup­ported Durham County Sher­iff Clarence Birk­head’s de­ci­sion to no longer honor ICE de­tain­ers or aid in the ap­pre­hen­sion of peo­ple sus­pected of be­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

In 2018, 17 elected lead­ers in the Tri­an­gle wrote a let­ter call­ing for ICE to be abol­ished.

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