North Carolina’s largest counties, Wake County and Mecklenburg County, cut ties with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In response to that, ICE has been working on illegal immigration cases on their own. So far there have been over 200 arrests over the state of North Carolina since the beginning of 2019. Keep in mind that we have just made it to the third month of the year. According to the News and Observer, “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.”
WCNC reports that in Mecklenburg County alone, “more than a dozen people were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).” These arrests have created two major events in Charlotte. First, there were statements issued by community faith leaders. Rev. Glencie Rhedrick of First Baptist Church-West states that, “The current administration cannot continue to use the language of unity when it desires to build a wall to separate families. ICE continues to invade and deport mothers and fathers while leaving their children in detention centers leaving families separated and children caged like animals. This is not UNITY.” Second, the Charlotte Observer reported that hundreds in Charlotte have protested against ICE’s presence in North Carolina. They chanted “sin papeles, sin miedo” which means “no papers, no fear” in Spanish and waved the flags of their home countries.
Most of these arrests occurred in places where mayors have refused to cooperate with ICE and ended the 287(g) program in their counties. 287(g) is a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act. According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “The 287(g) program, one of ICE’s top partnership initiatives, allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.” Basically, ICE is teaming up with municipalities to access records of inmates to determine whether or not they are undocumented. Because communities are denying this privilege to ICE, immigration officials decide to conduct raids. Because ICE is a part of the federal government, municipalities face limited options in protecting their undocumented residents.
Personally, I believe that combatting the enforcement of 287(g) is an ethical act. The current administration’s discrimination against the Latinx community is quite apparent to the public. 287(g) mainly targets Latinx community members and other people of color. It’s a form of institutional racism, one that is steadily increasing in power and reach. With this power in the hands of ICE, it is possible they will go through many Latinx American inmate cases just because of the color of their skin and their background.
With 287(g), Latinx American inmates would not be considered innocent until proven guilty. Those that will get deported might have to go back to the horrors of what they were trying to escape from. Easy deportation like this not only messes up the life of an individual, but also ruins their chance of a healthy life for their families.
The U.S. immigration process is one of the slowest functions of the American government. According to a report done by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is “adjudicating cases at an unacceptably and increasingly slow pace.” By doing this, rates of illegal immigration increase because applying for asylum and waiting to immigrate would take a longer time than just escaping and crossing the border.
ICE’s response is the work of the current administration. It’s a counter attack to municipalities that are refusing to work with ICE through the justice system. It’s absurd because the administration is messing with people’s lives. I don’t disagree that there are reasons why one should be deported, but there are also many reasons why one shouldn’t be deported, whether they are legal or illegal immigrants. The Trump Administration does not care about humanity, as proven by the merit-based system of immigration that they are hoping to initiate, and I doubt that the letter written by mayors of several counties in North Carolina will make any difference to them. We can only hope to elect a better candidate in the upcoming election so we can come closer to solving this problem.