ICE blasts new sher­iff for end­ing pro­gram

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - BY JOE MARUSAK AND CRISTINA BOLLING

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Meck­len­burg County Sher­iff Garry McFad­den’s de­ci­sion to end a jail im­mi­gra­tion pro­gram “is an open in­vi­ta­tion to aliens who com­mit crim­i­nal of­fenses,” an of­fi­cial with U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment said Thurs­day night — adding that “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.”

That change “will in­evitably re­sult in ad­di­tional col­lat­eral ar­rests in­stead of ar­rests at the jail where en­force­ment is safer for ev­ery­one in­volved,” said ICE At­lanta Field Of­fice Di­rec­tor Sean Gal­lagher, in a state­ment emailed to the Char­lotte Observer Thurs­day.

Wake County’s newly elected sher­iff, Ger­ald Baker, said Fri­day his of­fice also will no longer par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram, the (Raleigh) News & Observer re­ported.

McFad­den no­ti­fied ICE on Wed­nes­day that he was end­ing the county’s 287(g) pro­gram that “has sent more than 15,000 peo­ple into de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings since 2006,” the Observer re­ported. McFad­den, a for­mer long­time Char­lot­teMeck­len­burg Po­lice Depart­ment de­tec­tive, ended the pro­gram on his first full day as sher­iff.

He said that end­ing the pro-

gram in part “means peo­ple in im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties will be more will­ing to re­port crime,” ac­cord­ing to the Observer’s ar­ti­cle.

“In Fis­cal Year 2018 the Meck­len­burg County 287g pro­gram en­coun­tered 1,185 crim­i­nal aliens; yesterday’s de­ci­sion to end this law en­force­ment agree­ment leaves them to re­of­fend against the peo­ple of Meck­len­burg County,” Gal­lagher’s state­ment said.

It added that “de­spite the chal­lenges (McFad­den’s) de­ci­sion cre­ates, ICE re­mains com­mit­ted to en­forc­ing fed­eral law, and this de­ci­sion does not mean im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment will de­crease in Meck­len­burg County.”

In re­sponse, McFad­den is­sued a brief state­ment at 5 p.m. Fri­day: “Ap­prox­i­mately 78 coun­ties of more than 3000 in our na­tion vol­un­tar­ily agree to par­tic­i­pate in the 287(g) pro­gram,” the state­ment said. “Sher­iff McFad­den is com­mit­ted to do­ing his job to keep the com­mu­nity safe. The Sher­iff’s Of­fice is look­ing for­ward to a pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with ICE. The agency will fo­cus im­por­tant re­sources on com­ply­ing with state and fed­eral laws.”

ICE’s web­site says the agency “has 287(g) agree­ments with 78 law en­force­ment agen­cies in 20 states.”

Im­mi­grant ad­vo­cacy groups had cel­e­brated the end of 287(g) in Meck­len­burg on Wed­nes­day, host­ing McFad­den at an event at Manolo’s Bak­ery on Cen­tral Av­enue. There, he signed the ter­mi­na­tion of 287(g) and cut a sheet cake dec­o­rated with “287(g)” with a line struck through it.

Ste­fa­nia Arteaga, or­ga­nizer of ad­vo­cacy group Co­mu­nidad Colec­tiva, called ICE’s state­ment “fear mon­ger­ing” on Fri­day.

“The re­al­ity is, ICE is mak­ing it seem like they don’t al­ready do this,” Arteaga told the Observer. “They have been do­ing raids all along.”

Arteaga hosts reg­u­lar “know your rights” ed­u­ca­tional fo­rums for im­mi­grants to make them aware of what to do if ap­proached by ICE of­fi­cers. She plans to con­tinue those, she said, and to step up com­mu­nity net­works to track when and where ICE ar­rests are hap­pen­ing.

“The com­mu­nity is very re­ac­tive to­ward ICE’s ac­tions, and so I think we’re at a point where the com­mu­nity will stand up and fight back,” Arteaga said.

She pointed to the com­mu­nity re­sponse when ICE ar­rested a woman in July who was at­tend­ing a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence hear­ing at the Meck­len­burg County Court­house. “Peo­ple were in­fu­ri­ated,” she said.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak

Garry McFad­den

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