As Garry McFadden gets ready to take over the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, a spokesman for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a warning for him. If McFadden follows through on a campaign promise to end the county’s participation in the controversial 287(g) program, there could be ramped up activity on the part of ICE.
The 287(g) program allows sheriff’s deputies to notify ICE when someone is brought to jail and found to be living in the country illegally. ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said if that partnership is ended, ICE would be forced to start making more of its own arrests.
“The bottom line is, if we’re not able to take these persons into custody in the jail, we have no other choice but to expand ICE resources to go out into the community and look for them and find them ourselves,” said Cox. “And in doing that, it significantly increases the likelihood that we may come across other unlawfully present persons - who weren’t even on our radar - and those persons could be taken into custody as well.”
Latin American community leaders who led a campaign to oust Sheriff Irwin Carmichael for his use of the program characterized any such moves by ICE as unfair retribution. Olma Echeverri is with the Latin American Leadership Future Search, a Latino advocacy group in Charlotte.
She said ICE enforcement is already strong in Mecklenburg County.
“I don’t know how it can be increased any farther than it already is," Echeverri said. "So, to me, it does bring about an air of retaliation against community because of what legal citizens have done - which is exercise the right to vote.”
According to ICE, more than 15,000 people have been placed into deportation proceedings through the county's 287(g) program since it began in 2006. The sheriff’s office said last year, 455 people were detained through the program. More than a third faced felony charges and 40 percent faced misdemeanor charges as their primary alleged offense.
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