by WorldTribune Staff, November 11, 2018
Immigration activists are pushing the newly-elected sheriff in Wake County, North Carolina to follow through on his vow to end the county’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Gerald Baker, a Democrat who defeated incumbent Republican Donnie Harrison, said Wake County’s involvement with the federal 287(g) program will end “as soon as we walk in the door.”
Wake is one six counties in North Carolina which partner with ICE to transfer to federal custody people who have been arrested and are believed to be in the U.S. illegally.
The defeat of Sheriff Irwin Carmichael in Mecklenburg County is also being credited to organized opposition to his department’s cooperation with ICE.
The program that has led to more than 1,000 deportations in Wake in less than five years, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
A rally hosted by Familia Si, 287(g) NO, a campaign aimed at ending Wake County’s participation in the ICE program was held in downtown Raleigh on Nov. 8.
Ivana Gonzalez, a Wake County resident and an organizer of the rally, said she was pleased with Baker’s victory.
“But this is just the beginning. We are here to make sure change happens within,” Gonzalez told the News & Observer. “Baker needs our support. But we need to make sure he keeps his promise to make sure everything is done.”
Between 2013 and 2017, the Wake sheriff’s office processed nearly 11,000 people through the 287(g) program. Of those, 1,483 people were deported, the News & Observer’s report said.
“What motivated us was this system that has been separating our families,” Griselda Alonso said through a Spanish interpreter at the rally.
Leading up to the election in Wake, the ACLU spent $100,000 to air a radio ad that accused Harrison of “pushing Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, tearing families apart and stoking racial tensions.”
Karen Anderson, the executive director of ACLU North Carolina, told the rally participants that 287(g) “does not make our communities safer.
“Instead, it terrorizes our immigrant friends and our neighbors, it encourages racial profiling and tears families apart, as we so heartfelt heard today, and diverts resources from true community needs,” she said, adding that “Wake County voters made it clear: They do not want their local government using county resources to fuel Trump’s deportation machine.”
Sheriff-elect Baker, who has worked in the Wake sheriff’s office for 28 years, said: “Regardless of what color you are and where you’re from, if you break the law and we have to deal with you, we’re going to deal with you according to the law, not where you come from or whether you should be here. If someone needs to be deported, that’s a federal matter, and let them deal with it.”