Unintended consequence is that federal authorities may more aggressively pursue undocumented immigrants in communities…
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s not going to cooperate with federal immigration authorities – at least, not when it comes to a partnership program aimed at dealing with criminal illegal aliens.
But ending the agreement might just open the door to exactly what Sheriff-elect Garry McFadden doesn’t want – an increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) presence in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
McFadden won an historic election victory Tuesday night, when Mecklenburg County voters chose the 30-year Charlotte police veteran to be the top cop in the state’s most populous county.
McFadden, a Democrat, is also the county’s first African-American sheriff.
There will be no Republican challenger in the November general election.
Killing the ICE partnership, known as 287(g), was a leading campaign promise, which McFadden says he intends to make good on.
“I oppose it, and it’s not going to be around when I’m sheriff,” McFadden said. “We’re gonna dismantle 287(g).”
The ICE initiative allows local law enforcement deputies to act as immigration agents.
Deputies can check an immigration database to determine whether arrested criminal suspects are in the country illegally.
If so, they can notify federal officers of release dates, which could lead to deportation.
Dozens of counties across the country participate in the local-federal agreement, including five other North Carolina counties, although sanctuary-friendly areas are increasingly withdrawing.
Absent the program, federal immigration officers will be forced to broaden the scope of their activities beyond simply visiting the Mecklenburg County jail.
An ICE spokesman confirmed as much to several local news outlets on Wednesday.
“ICE has to go out into the community,” an agency spokesman told WBTV, a CBS affiliate in Charlotte. “We have to go to a residence, we have to go to a business, we have to pull a vehicle over, whatever it may be, to make that arrest for ourselves.”
If the officers happen into other illegal aliens during the course of locating an undocumented immigrant of interest, then the other individuals could also be arrested.
“It may be that he can just request that they shut it down, and that’ll be that,” said former Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey. “But there may be come unintended consequences that come for it.”
Incumbent Sheriff Irwin Carmichael, whom McFadden defeated, also supported the immigration partnership.
The endorsement sparked a series of activist protests leading up to the election.
Carmichael continued to defend the policy even after Tuesday night’s election loss, saying 287(g) is about “safety and security.”
“I want to make sure my family is safe,” he said. “That’s why I want to know who’s in jail.”
Carmichael blamed his defeat on “outside influences,” which may be more of a reason than an excuse.
Similar protests have occurred in Knox County, Tennessee, Fort Worth, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In December, activists took to the streets of Naples, Florida and demanded that the Collier County sheriff end the 287(g) program and “racial profiling” in Southwest Florida.
The sheriff explained in a public meeting that since 2007, the immigration partnership yielded 6,000 cases where illegal immigrants were responsible for more than 38,000 crimes.
In California, the Republican stronghold of Orange County recently broke its immigration partnership with ICE.
But the move came in response to a new state law declaring California a sanctuary state.
Whether in California or North Carolina, withdrawing from 287(g) could make communities more dangerous – for everyone.
“If they’re in jail, they don’t have weapons, and they’ve been screened,” the ICE spokesman told Mecklenburg reporters.
“If they’re released to the street, there may be weapons in play. It’s a greater risk for ICE, it’s a greater risk for the person being arrested, it’s also a greater risk for the community as a whole,” he said.