U.S.

ICE Arrests 200 Illegal Immigrants in North Carolina, Calling it 'The New Normal'

Federal immigration agents arrested 200 undocumented immigrants in North Carolina this week, including 27 who worked at a gun manufacturing plant.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which enforces U.S. immigration laws, is calling multiple arrests in Mecklenburg and Wake counties a “new normal.”

The arrests in these counties — the two most-populated in the state — follows each county’s resistance to the controversial 287g program, in which deputies scan a federal database to determine whether or not an inmate is an illegal immigrant. If the inmates are here illegally, then ICE is contacted and the inmates are held until deportation begins.

Garry McFadden, the new Mecklenburg County sheriff, doesn’t agree with the law, saying it builds distrust among the immigrant communities, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Sheriff’s departments in Mecklenburg, Wake and Durham counties severed ties with the 287g program in December, which has led to ICE officials doing more hands-on arrests in the field rather than processing detained undocumented immigrants.

Sean Gallagher, the ICE director in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, said when counties don’t cooperate, it causes more danger for his officers.

“This is the direct conclusion of dangerous policies of not cooperating with ICE,” Gallagher said in the Observer. “This forces my officers to go out onto the street to conduct more enforcement.”

Without the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies, Gallagher said there will most likely be a greater number of ICE arrests in those communities.

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

Of the arrests made this week, only a third of them were considered collateral arrests — someone living in the country illegally but has no prior or pending convictions.

ICE arrested 27 illegal immigrants Tuesday at Bear Creek Arsenal, a gun manufacturer nearly an hour southwest of Raleigh. Of those, 25 are facing criminal charges and two have been charged with breaking civil immigration laws, according to ICE spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell.

“If arrests were made (Tuesday) at other locations in North Carolina, they were separate from the criminal investigation and subsequent arrests that took place at Bear Creek Arsenal,” Cutrell said.

The investigation at Bear Creek Arsenal was a year in the making. After reviewing 200 I-9 employment documents, ICE officials found that “numerous” employees used false documents and fake social security numbers in the hiring process.

ICE raided the facility without the City of Sanford’s knowledge.

Of the 200 arrested between Monday and Thursday, about 50 of them have criminal convictions, a quarter of them have eluded deportation and another 40 have pending cases against them.

ICE held its news conference in Charlotte at a Homeland Security office. Charlotte City Council Member Braxton Winston said when he tried to enter the press conference, officials threatened to arrest him because he didn’t have media credentials.  

Speaking to an Observer reporter, Winston said he had spoken with an assistant field director for ICE who told him the new heightened enforcement on illegal immigration has become “the new normal.”

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