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In Response To Critics, Mayor Lyles Releases Letter On Immigration

Jessa O'Connor / WFAE
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles released a "Letter to the Community" Monday about immigration

After activists criticized Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles for not condemning federal immigration raids last week, Lyles on Monday released a "Letter to the Community" that tried to address the issue.

Credit Steve Harrison / WFAE
In her letter, Mayor Vi Lyles said that she believes "words alone are not enough."

In her letter, Lyles said that she believes "words alone are not enough."

Lyles said she is still creating a new council committee, the Immigrant Community Committee. At last week's council meeting, Lyles told activists she was forming the committee, but speakers during the public forum were still angry.

[Related Content: Speakers Want More City Support For Immigrants, Amid ICE Arrests]

Lyles read from her letter at Monday's council meeting. She said the city and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are "not involved with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement federal immigration enforcement operations."

The mayor's letter did not call for federal immigration reform. It also did not criticize ICE.

The letter said, "We are committing to action by dedicating time and resources to help our immigrant community. Words must be coupled with intentional action as we build solutions together."

In the past, the city has been bolder in staking a position on immigration.

In 2015, the City Council — when Lyles an at-large member — passed a civil rights resolution that CMPD would not enforce immigration law.

That resolution stated that if an officer learned someone was in the country illegally, CMPD would not act on that information. Former CMPD chief Rodney Monroe said at the time that CMPD's job wasn't to enforce federal immigration law.

That resolution led to the General Assembly passing a law in 2015 that nullified what the Republican legislature said were “sanctuary city” ordinances.

Since then, the General Assembly has periodically threatened to withhold millions of dollars of funding from municipalities that it considers "Sanctuary Cities."

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.