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7 NC mayors say ‘ICE raids have struck terror in the hearts of many’

ICE attributes increased arrests to sheriff, other jurisdictions not cooperating

Sean Gallagher, Atlanta Field Office Director for U.S. ICE, talks about the increased arrests his office is making and attributed it to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden's cancellation of the 287g program at the jai.
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Sean Gallagher, Atlanta Field Office Director for U.S. ICE, talks about the increased arrests his office is making and attributed it to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden's cancellation of the 287g program at the jai.

Seven North Carolina mayors have a signed a letter condemning the ICE raids in the state that led to the arrest of over 200 immigrants.

In a letter written by Durham Mayor Steve Schewel and signed by six other mayors, they called for the end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

“The ICE raids have struck terror in the hearts of many of our valued community members. They have broken apart families, separating parents from their children,” the letter says.

Along with Schewel, others who signed the letter are Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin.

“We cannot stop ICE from operating in our cities, but we can and must speak out against these raids which destabilize neighborhoods, traumatize children, hurt many innocent people, and create distrust of law enforcement. The negative collateral consequences of these raids on our cities is enormous,” the letter says.

The mayors said that more than 230 people were arrested during the raids over the past week, calling the raids “detrimental to the welcoming, stable, loving communities that we work every day to build.”

In a press conference last week, ICE Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher called ICE actions the “new normal,” The News & Observer previously reported.

“If they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, my officers will take an enforcement action,” Gallagher said.

The North Carolina mayors said most of the arrests occurred in counties where sheriffs have ended the practice of ICE detainers — holding immigrants charged with crimes and who are in the country illegally for 48 hours beyond the time they would legally be allowed to be released, such as by posting bail.

“This is the prerogative of our sheriffs, and they have exercised it wisely to help our communities live free from fear,” the letter says.

New sheriffs in Durham, Wake and Mecklenburg counties are among those that no longer honor detainers.

Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs read a statement on behalf of the board about ICE on Monday, during the commissioners meeting.

Jacobs said the county strongly condemns ICE’s recent action in Durham that affected at least six families.

“These actions by ICE do not serve to make the Durham community safer,” she said. “In fact, they serve to terrorize the immigrant and Latinx community in Durham to the point that it makes our community less safe.”

The Durham County commissioners’ statement also supported Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead’s decision to no longer honor ICE detainers or aid in the apprehension of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

In 2018, 17 elected leaders in the Triangle wrote a letter calling for ICE to be abolished.

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Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics. She previously covered Durham for 13 years, and has received six North Carolina Press Association awards, including a 2018 award for investigative reporting.


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