New sher­iffs in Durham, Wake will not aid ICE

The News & Observer - - Front Page - BY THOMASI MC­DON­ALD tm­c­don­[email protected]­sob­server.com

Newly elected Wake County Sher­iff Ger­ald Baker said Fri­day that his of­fice will no longer par­tic­i­pate in a con­tro­ver­sial im­mi­gra­tion pro­gram.

For years Wake has been part of 287(g), which al­lows lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies to part­ner with U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment to iden­tify and even­tu­ally de­port peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally who have been charged with a crime.

Baker an­nounced the end of Wake’s par­tic­i­pa­tion at a news con­fer­ence Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“We serve a lot of com­mu­ni­ties,” Baker said as he stood next to Uriel Ro­driguez, a mid­dle school stu­dent he met while cam­paign­ing. “We want to make it so that the Wake County Sher­iff’s Of­fice treats ev­ery­body the same and im­proves the qual­ity of life for each and ev­ery per­son. It’s about hu­man­ity. It’s about just car­ing for peo­ple. That’s a large part of what this of­fice will be do­ing, mov­ing for­ward.”

The Durham County Sher­iff’s Of­fice also said in a press re­lease Fri­day that newly elected Sher­iff Clarence F. Birk­head would end the prac­tice of hon­or­ing ICE de­tain­ers.

Durham County has not par­tic­i­pated in 287(g), but it used de­tain­ers to hold sus­pects up to an ad­di­tional 48 hours so ICE

could take them into cus­tody.

Un­der the new plan, “ab­sent of a court order or ar­rest war­rant signed by a ju­di­cial of­fi­cial any per­son who has had their crim­i­nal charges dis­posed of or who has made bond will not be held be­yond the nor­mal timetable for re­lease,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

In Wake, the sher­iff’s of­fice said it would honor “law­fully is­sued” de­tain­ers for the 90 jail in­mates cur­rently be­ing held un­der 287(g).

Baker promised to re­view the cases to en­sure the de­tain­ers were law­ful.

Im­mi­gra­tion was a hot topic in sher­iffs’ races across North Carolina dur­ing this fall’s elec­tion.

In Wake County, Baker, a Demo­crat, de­feated long­time Re­pub­li­can in­cum­bent Don­nie Har­ri­son.

Wake be­gan par­tic­i­pat­ing in 287(g) un­der Har­ri­son, who ar­gued that it helped his of­fice iden­tify in­mates who give an alias and were in the U.S. il­le­gally.

The ACLU spent $100,000 for a lo­cal ra­dio ad­ver­tise­ment that ac­cused Har­ri­son of “tear­ing fam­i­lies apart and stok­ing racial ten­sions” by par­tic­i­pat­ing in 287(g).

The an­nounce­ments from Baker and Birk­head came two days af­ter Meck­len­burg County Sher­iff Garry McFad­den said his of­fice will no longer be part of the pro­gram.

ICE quickly crit­i­cized McFad­den’s de­ci­sion, call­ing it “an open in­vi­ta­tion to aliens who com­mit crim­i­nal of­fenses,” the Char­lotte Ob­server re­ported.

The ACLU also paid for a sim­i­lar ad­ver­tise­ment that aired in May dur­ing the sher­iff’s race in Meck­len­burg County, home to Char­lotte. McFad­den de­feated the in­cum­bent.

Im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates and oth­ers who op­posed 287(g) in Wake praised Baker on Fri­day.

“The sher­iff has kept his cam­paign prom­ise,” said, Rick Brown, at­tor­ney for Baker.

At the end of the news con­fer­ence, Baker put his arm around the shoul­ders of Uriel Ro­driguez while the two posed for a pic­ture.

“It will help the com­mu­nity a lot,” Uriel said.

CASEY TOTH [email protected]­sob­server.com

“It would help the com­mu­nity a lot,” Uriel Ro­driguez, right, said af­ter lis­ten­ing to Wake County Sher­iff Ger­ald Baker an­nounce the end of his depart­ment’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in 287(g), a pro­gram al­low­ing them to col­lab­o­rate with ICE to detain peo­ple liv­ing in the United States il­le­gally, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence Fri­day in Raleigh.

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