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Sheriff McFadden, immigrant advocates speak in opposition to ICE cooperation bill

Sheriff Garry McFadden, at left, speaks with members of the public after a demonstration against H.B. 10.
Stefania Arteaga
Carolina Migrant Network
Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden speaks with members of the public after a demonstration against H.B. 10.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden joined demonstrators in Raleigh Wednesday to oppose a state bill that would obligate local officials to carry out federal immigration duties.

McFadden spoke emphatically outside the North Carolina General Assembly against HouseBill10, a Republican-sponsored proposal that was approved Tuesday evening by the state House of Representatives.

The bill, now headed to the Senate, would obligate the state’s sheriffs to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, similar to the federal and currently voluntary 287(g) program.

During an event organized Wednesday by the Farmworker Advocacy Network, McFadden said the proposal undermines democratically elected officials.

“When I took 287(g) off the book, it was intentional. Why? Because I want my citizens, my residents, to be able to come and tell me when a crime happened,” McFadden said. “I want that same person to be able to be a witness for me when a crime happens. But when you have issues like we have here, we find mistrust in our community.”

McFadden referred to comments from Republican Rep. Destin Hall, a sponsor of H.B. 10, who has described certain North Carolina sheriffs as “woke” for not establishing agreements with ICE.

“When the people in this building say, ‘the woke sheriffs,’ we are woke. We are very much woke,” McFadden said. “But they are scared to say, we are talking about the Black sheriffs. We are talking about the sheriffs that people elected in 2018 that didn't look like them, didn't speak like them, and definitely didn't act like them.”

Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead also spoke during the event in opposition to the bill, as did members of the Centro Hispano, Hispanic Federation and NC Justice Center.

Maria González, deputy director of El Pueblo Inc. and daughter of a farmworker, said her local representative has never responded to her requests to discuss H.B. 10.

“They don't care about any of us. And they spit in our faces every single day by not listening to us,” González said. “There are over 150,000 farmworkers in this state right now. These workers, these people will leave the state. They will go somewhere else.”

While similar ICE cooperation bills have been vetoed twice in the past, Republicans now hold larger majorities in the state House and Senate. Those majorities could allow them to override a veto by the governor.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.