And the attacks keep coming
Last Thursday, the proposed legislation to Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE was introduced by House Representatives Destin Hall (Caldwell), Brendon Jones (Columbus/Robeson), Jason Saine (Lincoln), and Carson Smith (Columbus/Pender). These Representatives probably don’t have much to worry about when it comes to their own Sheriffs and the General Counsel for the Sheriff’s Association commented that they did not ask for the bill. Historically, the Sheriffs in North Carolina—like many across the country—don’t like being told what to do, so this proposal may come down to this issue even if it’s being pushed through by House Speaker Tim Moore. In recent years, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association and the Police Chiefs Association has intervened to make statements against certain proposed legislation that they suggest would limit their local autonomy and create challenges for public safety. At the crux of these local law enforcement partnerships with ICE is also a larger conflation between National Security and Public Safety.
While these legislators were attempting to force Sheriffs to collaborate with ICE, Latinx immigrant rights activists were showing up to push the Governor’s Latino/Hispanic Advisory Council to pressure the Governor to respond to the recent ICE arrests and to be proactive on a few other policies/proposals. The Governor did not immediately issue a statement after the 200+ ICE arrests and still has not publicly made a statement, although a representative from the Council suggests that he opposes the ICE arrests and is asking for immigration reform (original in Spanish below and translation in English).
“Este tipo de redadas pueden separar a familias inocentes y causar temor en las comunidades que no merecen tener ese miedo “, “La conclusión es que necesitamos una reforma migratoria integral a nivel federal que trabaje para asegurar nuestras fronteras sin aterrorizar a las comunidades, y eso debe suceder ahora”. Cooper también indicó que “las personas que han cometido delitos graves deben ser arrestadas independientemente de su estatus migratorio”.
“This type of raid can separate innocent families and cause fear in communities that do not deserve to live with this fear.” “The conclusion is that we need immigration reform at the federal level that secures our borders without terrorizing communities and that should happen today.” “The people who have committed serious crimes should be arrested independent of their immigration status.”
Later that same day this proposed legislation was introduced, I spoke on a panel on Immigration in the High Country. I joined an immigration attorney, graduate students from a social work class, a representative from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the chief of the Appalachian Police Development Program, and a member of the Immigrant Justice Committee. I mostly presented information about the current state of immigration enforcement in North Carolina. And I greatly appreciated an audience member—who works at Opposing Abuse with Service Information and Shelter (OASIS), Inc. who felt empowered to ask the representative from the Sheriff’s Office about their U-visa policy. He responded that they are willing to sign these and I’m looking forward to completing public records requests about these policies from local law enforcement agencies across the state.
This past weekend, an hour away from Boone, the first Faith Action Identification drive was also held in Morganton, NC. Back in July of 2018, Boone became the first Western, NC locality to adopt the program meant to provide individuals with a valid form of identification when interacting with local law enforcement. This process also requires attendees to go through an orientation with local law enforcement, often allowing for participants to ask specific questions about local immigration enforcement and other concerns. In Boone, approximately 400 people showed up. In Morganton, about 450 also showed up—showcasing the need for an identification accessible to those who are unable to obtain a state issued identification like a driver’s license.
Last week, National ACLU released information indicating that license plate reader information is being shared with ICE. This comes after other efforts by the ACLU to uncover widespread the use of automatic licenses plate readers. They found that more than 80 law enforcement agencies nationwide are doing this. Investigations into whether North Carolina agencies are doing this are underway. Surveillance issues like this have also emerged and come into question from reporters and activists associated with supporting/covering the migrant caravan efforts. And activists in North Carolina are becoming concerned that Assistant Field Office Director, Robert J. Alfrieri recently started following them on twitter.
And two weeks ago, which feels like a lifetime, I also went on The State of Things to discuss responses to ICE enforcement in Western, NC. This week I’ll present research on the revenue generation of local immigration enforcement for my department. Although I mainly focus on the financial transactions between ICE and local Sheriffs offices with 287(g) programs, I’ll be grounding this information in a more thorough understanding of the construction and workings of the federal immigration detention system. Related to that, this semester I’ve completed book reviews of Detain and Punish: Haitian Refugees and the Rise of the World’s Largest Immigration Detention System and Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States. These two books along with From Deportation to Prison: The Politics of Immigration Enforcement in Post-Civil Rights America combine to provide an overview of the growth (financial and physical) of immigrant detention initially meant to detain and deter Haitian refugees.