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Charlotte Immigration Activists Say Trump Threat Will Make People Hide

President Donald Trump
President Trump on Monday threatened mass arrests and deportations of people in the country illegally.

On Monday night, President Trump tweeted that  Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will begin removing “millions” of people next week who are in the country illegally.

The president’s threat comes as he launches his re-election campaign tonight in Florida. 

Charlotte immigration activist Hector Vaca expects the president’s tweet will cause many people who are in the country illegally to stay home.

"A lot of people will probably not go to work," he said. "A lot of people will avoid leaving their homes because immigration agents have been known to - here in Charlotte - to dress up as construction workers and other such industries in order to lure people to their vehicles."

Blanca Hernandez of Waxhaw is part of an immigrant support group, United Women for Change. She expects large numbers of  immigrants to stay home next week.

"The people who are getting deported is because they are going out to work and provide for their families, so they do not make it back it home.," she said. "Who is going to provide for them?"

In response to previous ICE raids, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles created a new council committee to study immigrant issues. 

The full council will vote Monday on some of the committee's recommendations. But council member Larken Egleston, who chairs the committee, says the city is powerless to stop ICE, even if it opposes the raids. 

"You can make the argument that we have the platform to make statements, but the fact is those statements would have no real foundation of authority," he said. "We can tell ICE they can’t be in Charlotte. We can’t dictate what the federal government tells federal law enforcement what to do or not to do. We can’t tell the sheriff what to do or not to do."

ICE released a statement Tuesday that did not address the president’s tweets. It said the agency will “continue to conduct interior enforcement…for those who are in violation of federal immigration law.”

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.