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Immigration Law And Enforcement In Charlotte With CMPD Chief Kerr Putney

David Boraks

Thursday, February 16, 2017

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney clarifies his department’s policy on immigrants and we gauge reaction in the local immigrant community to President Trump’s executive order.

Reports of arrests of people who are in this country illegally have caused fear and uncertainty among local immigrant communities. In the last week, federal immigration agents have made arrests nationwide, with more than 100 in the Carolinas, in what President Trump has called a "crackdown" on undocumented immigrants.

Listen here for a portion of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins speaking with Chief Kerr Putney.

Charlotte immigration advocates call it a "war on immigrant families." Mayor Jennifer Roberts has said she's concerned by the recent actions of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. She and city officials have also made it clear that Charlotte is not a sanctuary city and they are in compliance with federal immigration laws. Local law enforcement does not enforce those laws, but by law cannot prohibit officers from sharing information about a person's immigration status with the federal government.

Amid swirling social media reports and misinformation, CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney has sought to clarify the department's position on immigration concerns. Putney says the department's primary goal is preventing and solving crime and to be successful "it is critical to maintain trust between CMPD and all communities." Building trust is something they've been working on since the shooting of Keith Scott and resulting protests. Mike Collins will talk with Chief Putney, immigration attorneys and others about immigration law and enforcement in Charlotte.

Part One: CMPD Chief Kerr Putney 

Kerr Putney - Chief of Police, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney talks with Mike Collins.

Part Two: Impact on Local Immigrant Community 

David Boraks - Reporter for WFAE, he's been covering this story

Atenas Burrola -Director & Managing Attorney, Immigrant Integration Center, Latin American Coalition

Alan Gordon - Immigration Attorney in Charlotte, Alan Gordon Immigration Law

Mike Collins talks with reporter David Boraks and immigration attorneys.

Interview highlights with Chief Putney:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney says his officers are not asking people about their immigration status. He told Mike Collins that neither federal nor state law requires local police to ask about that.   

Putney: What we tell our people is it's not relevant to us unless you're committing a crime. If you're a victim of crime, we don't care about your immigration status then. What we care about is solving that crime and bringing the people who committed that crime to justice.

Putney says where immigration status does become a factor is with criminals. After CMPD arrests someone, they essentially hand that person off at a county jail, which is run by the Mecklenburg County sheriff. The sheriff's office does check immigration status because it takes part in a voluntary federal program called 287(g).

Putney says Charlotte is not a sanctuary city, and its officers are not forbidden from asking about immigration status. They're just taught to focus on crime and let ICE focus on federal immigration law. 

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Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.