2-14-2019: The “New” Normal


The “New” Normal

This is what ICE Director Sean Gallagher said in a press conference last Friday. Yet, prior to this, racial profiling and sending information about a person’s legal status was just a “normal” part of daily life if someone encountered local law enforcement.  The fear and anxiety people of color feel when they encounter local law enforcement, is also a normal part of people’s lives, but it should never be normalized. Instead, we should work toward a new normal where this does not occur. A new normal when the threat of ICE field teams raiding a business or arresting people on their way to work is not a threat for Sheriffs who end VOLUNTARY partnerships with ICE.

Some mornings, I wake up and I think it’s going to be a good day and other mornings, like yesterday, I woke up and saw that ICE was in my hometown. I spent the weekend in the place I called my home for the past 10 years, driving around and verifying whether or not ICE was in those places too. When I got back to Boone on Sunday night, I tried figuring out what our infrastructure looks like there, in what will become my new home. And I went through videos and posts from various community organizations documenting the ICE presence in their communities, in the hopes that we can see some patterns. One thing that I can’t shake from the press conference last Friday, is that ICE is trying to send a message and not just through the media. I watched a video of ICE stopping a van on the side of the road in Charlotte, North Carolina that was uploaded by Comunidad Colectiva. And when I looked at the video , I realized that the officer requesting information from the driver was the Assistant Field Office Director, Robert J. Alfrieri, who let the driver go without further questions when he saw the driver recording the interaction. Most of the time when I write about ICE officials, I’m not typically writing about the actual managers of the organization. I’m writing about those folks who are based in jails. So to see this high level employee participating in these recent arrests and the threats from the press conference, means that ICE leadership really has a stake in responding to the “loss” of at least three partnerships in counties with large immigrant communities.

But will the threats stop?

On Sunday, in my hometown, the sheriff released a statement suggesting that the local ICE program (287(g) program) cost taxpayers money. This agreement will be up for renewal at the end of the month and ICE may, yet again, “lose” another program in the state. The last chapter of the book that I’m working on, focuses on this particular piece, the cost to taxpayers and the cost in general of the 287(g) programs across North Carolina.

The past two weeks were full of ups and downs for the entire community in North Carolina. Two weeks ago Sheriff Terry Johnson in Alamance County, asked the county board of commissioners for 2.8 million to expand the local jail so that more immigrants who are incarcerated can be held there. And this past week, the ICE arrests began with a raid in Sanford, North Carolina, while the Forsyth County Sheriff made a statement about ending his agreement with the U.S. marshals.

Tomorrow, I’ll present with my research assistants at the North Carolina Sociological Association. This research is not about the recent ICE arrests or even about the sporadic nature of these recent events. Instead, we’re focusing on some of the other arms of ICE reach at the local level: adult corrections and financial transactions. We’re also discussing two related items:

  • What can local elected do when it comes to immigration enforcement and integration?
  • What is the state of U-Visa certification in North Carolina.

Questions for this week, the first, my students couldn’t wrap their heads around:

  • What would a world without crime look like? The definition of crime, that my students think is too vague, is up to you. We work off of a few from our textbook:
    • Crime as a violation of conduct norms
    • Crime as a social harm and analogous social injury (legally permissible acts or social condition)
    • Crime as a violation of (human) rights
    • Crime as a form of deviance (social behavior or characteristic that departs from a society’s conventional norms and standards and for which the deviant is sanctioned)
    • Crime as a violation of global conduct norms (interconnected and interdependent) and global cultural diffusion
  • How do we work together at the local level despite our differences?
  • How does the narrative of Jose Chicas, who is still in sanctuary in Durham, NC, fit into the recent events?

Relevant Highlights for this week

Songs: Ice el hielo by La Santa Cecilia

Articles: Race Counts: Racial and Ethnic Data on the U.S. Census and the Implications for Tracking Inequality by Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Brandon A. Jackson, and Steve Garner

Meetings/check-ins: Daniel Stageman and Shirley Leyro