After Sheriffs Cut Ties With ICE in North Carolina, Feds Arrest Hundreds of Immigrants

by | February 12, 2019 AT 6:25 AM

By Kate Croxton

With some North Carolina sheriffs declining to work with ICE, the organization says it's moved to a "new normal" in detaining illegal immigrants.

"Unfortunately, ICE is telling us, this is the 'new normal' because courageous sheriffs have been elected in Mecklenburg County, Durham County, Wake County and Forsyth, and they vowed to end their ties with ICE, and [ICE is] retaliating against their communities and the sheriffs who have vowed to support immigrant communities and end this relationship," Laura Garduno Garcia with Siembra NC said Monday morning, Feb. 5, at a press conference.

Siembra NC hosted the press conference to address recent detentions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Garcia, along with others, showed support for local sheriffs who have refused to work with ICE and explained how families have been affected by the recent detentions.

According to The (Raleigh) News & Observer, more than 200 people were detained by ICE last week in North Carolina. Siembra NC claims eight people were detained Feb. 6 in Alamance County. ICE could not be reached for comment on who they are, where they are being held and the circumstances behind their detainment.

ICE has been a controversial topic in Alamance County because of its partnership with Sheriff Terry Johnson, in which the Sheriff's Office has agreed to hold ICE detainees at the county jail.

"All these statewide raids, all these detentions, were staffed out of the Alamance County jail," said Andrew Willis Garces, organizing coordinator for Siembra NC. "They probably would not have been possible without Alamance County's support."

No one at the Alamance County Sheriff's Office could be reached for comment on Garces' claim. The Guilford and Caswell county sheriffs' offices also couldn't be reached.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office, however, said its position hasn't changed.

"Orange County has never been a participant in the 287(g) program," Sheriff Charles Blackwood said. "Our position is and continues to be that if we receive documentation that provides the necessary legal basis to satisfy the Fourth Amendment, we will hold the individual. Absent the necessary legal basis, the individual will be released.

"It's not accurate to say that we don't 'cooperate' with ICE. That would suggest we are uncooperative. That is not the case. We simply don't honor detainers that are not signed by a judge."

Siembra NC also claimed that more than 200 people have volunteered for "ICE watches" in Alamance, Guilford and Forsyth counties, and hundreds of phone calls, texts and messages are coming in.

"We believe that our judicial system is well equipped to deal with anyone who breaks the law, whatever their status is," Garcia said. "It does not mean that it must result in permanent family separation. We don't need ICE raids. We don't need ICE in our community. All this is doing is intimidating and instilling fear in people who need to go to work, mothers who need to take their children to school, and children who need to learn."

A pastor, a teacher, a family of someone deported, and Greensboro City Council member Michelle Kennedy also spoke at the press conference.

"Now, more than ever, our country is faced with the greatest moral test of our time," Kennedy said. "We as elected officials can choose to be complicit in this humanitarian crisis, or we can step up and say that we stand for an end of family separation and mass incarceration."

(c)2019 Times-News (Burlington, N.C.)