In Raleigh, North Carolina, there’s a bit of a divisive split between sheriffs who intend to honor detainers drafted by ICE and those who intend not to in an effort to remain politically correct.
While the side claiming to want to continue working alongside federal immigration officials says it’s in the interest of public safety, those on the other side think that ICE imposes some sort of agenda to demonize immigrants within communities.
This past Monday, the Trump administration’s leaders on immigration enforcement said that several North Carolina sheriffs care more about politics than public safety by declining to assist with federal agents looking for people suspected to be in the U.S. illegally.
The acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting ICE Director Matt Albence visited Raleigh for a conference with state and local officials and lawmakers on the perils of rejecting ICE detainers.
The detainers are a means for immigration officials to request that a suspect be held up to an additional 48 hours after their release in order to allow federal authorities to take them into custody.
Officials who were in attendance heard from people who said they had family members killed by those who were not supposed to be in the country in the first place.
Chad Wolfe from ICE stated:
“It is the responsibility of our local, state and federal leaders to take action to protect our community. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen is the opposite from certain elected officials and jurisdictions around the country, and right here in North Carolina.”
Republican lawmakers had approved state legislation earlier in the year that would have required sheriffs to recognize immigration detainers.
Yet, the measure was shut down by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, which only emboldened the sheriffs who refused to cooperate with ICE in the first place.
Surprisingly, Burnis Wilkins, Robeson County’s Democrat sheriff, has said that he would work with ICE officials.
Governor Cooper said the bill was likely to be unconstitutional, adding that he was worried about a provision directing that a sheriff be removed from office for failing to uphold immigration duties such as cooperating with detainer requests.
Of course, immigration advocates have said arresting people on detainers somehow violates their due process rights, but the case of Nielsen v. Preap refutes that notion completely.
Republicans simply don’t have the voting power to complete the override of the legislation, which passed along party lines. Democrats are calling the proposed legislation politically motivated and have implied that the race of the sheriffs played a role in the bill.
Still, Republican legislators have told the victims of crimes stemming from those illegally present in the country that they’ll continue to fight for them and work to make sure there’s no more stories like the ones they harbor.
Representative Brenden Jones of Columbus County commented on the immigration catastrophe.
“For our governor to turn his back on our sheriffs and say that your safety is not as important as a criminal is a travesty to this state.”
There wasn’t a single Democratic legislator to been seen during the assembly on Monday when the issues were discussed, showing a complete disregard for bi-partisan cooperation.
One North Carolina resident, Chris Storie, told Wolf and other round-table partakers of how a 2011 crash had taken the life of her brother and injured her in the process.
The suspect in that case was illegally present within the United States, and had managed to bond out of jail and become a fugitive who has yet to have been caught to this day.
Storie said the accident has devastated her family, adding they no longer gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the painful memories of their loss. When driving the point home as to why she attended, she stated:
“I don’t want to see any more families going through this. We have had no justice in our case.”
Angeline Echeverría, executive director of El Pueblo, which advocates for Latino community members, said the victims of criminal aliens and their crimes should be separated from influencing legislation on immigration.
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Echeverría thinks that forcing sheriffs to honor detainers aims to vilify immigrants and goes against the public who elected them for the stances that they hold, as he stated in an interview.
“This is part of a campaign that they have been leading to basically demonize immigrant community members and to undermine the will of voters in North Carolina to support sheriffs,” Echeverría said.
North Carolina legislators and members of Congress, like U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, have stressed the detainer matter this year, pointing to statistics from ICE showing local authorities had refused to honor almost 500 detainers in the state as of late August. Wolf also brought up the case involving a detainer issued in Durham County involving a man now charged with murder.
Secretary Chad Wolf criticized North Carolina sheriffs who refuse to hand over people who ICE want to take into custody. https://t.co/zWbIU1z9q5
— The News & Observer (@newsobserver) November 26, 2019
ICE isn’t letting up on the fight either, having gone so far to create a website highlighting “non-cooperative jurisdictions” and mug shots of criminal defendants who “may be released into your community” because certain sheriffs habitually refuse to acknowledge the federal requests.
Wolf said that if people wanted on ICE detainers can’t be held in safe environments such as jails, then ICE agents are left with no choice but to commence arrests within communities. Numerous county sheriffs who comply with detainers say their commitment is based on public safety measures, as custody transfers are far less prone to collateral damage than public arrests.
Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons offered these no-nonsense words regarding the immigration hubbub:
“We go after the people that broke the law and (are) constantly breaking the law. These are bad people that we stop and we hold them and I’m not going to put them back on the streets.”
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