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Chatham County staying out of ICE enforcement program

Posted January 12, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The Chatham County Board of Commissioners officially opposes having local governments contract to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforce immigration laws.

Their concern: participation in ICE could have negative consequences for the community.

"These unintended consequences do in fact occur, especially when you don't have the wherewithal to properly enforce the laws – and we don't here in Chatham County,” said George Lucier, commissioners chairman. The board recently voted to stay out of the program.

Chatham says 'no' to ICE immigration enforcement Chatham says 'no' to ICE immigration enforcement

“We fully support local law enforcement’s duty to uphold the law," Lucier said. "At the same time, we commend our law enforcement leaders for not participating in the optional ICE program, because it has helped us avoid some problems that other communities are facing.”

Among those problems, said Margie Ellison, who chairs the county’s Human Relations Commission, is that the "ICE detention process may separate family members, including abrupt separations of children from their parents."

A 2007 joint study released by the National Council of La Raza and The Urban Institute found that children suffer psychologically and economically when their parents are detained.

Other problems that the commissioners noted were violations of civil rights and liberties, distrust of law enforcement by  immigrants and racial profiling.

"Unless funds, training and appropriate authority are granted to local governments, it is really not our place to enforce the immigration laws,” Lucier said.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said ICE does not do racial profiling. It does targeted enforcement based on investigations and intelligence, she said.

Gonzalez also noted that the department respects Chatham County's decision and that the county is well within its rights to make the decision. However, some county residents with whom WRAL News spoke Monday evening disagreed.

"I don't see that, because they are our laws. If it's the law of the United States, or of the state, than it is their law,” Chatham County resident Stuart Sorrow said.

"I think all local governments have a responsibility to follow the lead of the federal government,” Chatham County resident Fred Gamin said.

The City of Durham, as well as Wake, Alamance, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Gaston, Henderson and Mecklenburg counties are taking part in the ICE program. ICE provides funding and training for those participants.

Working under the supervision of ICE, sheriffs' officials identified more than 3,000 illegal immigrants during an eight-month period last year. According to the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association, 44 percent of those identified had been charged with serious crimes, including murder, assault and domestic violence.

185 Comments

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  • gordonbabe Jan 14, 2009

    Dr. Data... I'm on board with you too! Whitt would never have let this happen!

    But therein lies the problem... politics are for politicians... NOT Sheriffs. The sheriff's job should only be to UPHOLD the law. We need to impeach the whole board of commissioners!

  • gordonbabe Jan 14, 2009

    Ok, so many of you think illegals are ok to work in housing (on new homes, roofing, etc) because it's cheap labor, right? WRONG.

    I've seen these people work. There are reasons that legitimate housing contractors cost so much. It's called education and/or experience! Go ahead and hire the illegals... spend your money... then when your house or porch falls in months later (& the illegals are nowhere to be found to answer for the shotty work) you will then spend a fortune on an actual contractor to try and repair the damage.

  • Vietnam Vet Jan 13, 2009

    Hmmmm. Law Enforcement?? Doesn't that mean enforcement of the laws?

  • spentrounds-full auto Jan 13, 2009

    I say pass a law in the general assembly making chatham county the only safe haven for ILLEGALS in north carolina and let them all move there, if they wish. The legal citizens who remain there can subsidize their costs, medical and law enformcement included, with no state or federal help. Federal and state monies should be available for those LEGAL residents who decide to move from chatham county. Wonder how chatham county would like that.

  • holdonvoltaire Jan 13, 2009

    If you are serious about this issue, pledge to do one thing (however small) every day or every other day in 2009. Write or call your elected officials frequently and encourage others to do so. Join a group like NumbersUSA or FAIR or US English (which, despite what you read from pro-illegal immigration supporters, are NOT racist organizations) and occasionally give them even a little money ($10, for instance). Boycott companies and stores that you feel explicitly or implicitly support illegal immigration, amnesty, or hinder assimilation. Attend and/or organize rallies and debates and speeches in your area

    We will never win if we do not show our elected officials AND business leaders how important this is to us, and I don't just mean lighting up the Capitol Hill phone system the day before an amnesty vote. The most committed wins, so be committed.

  • Eduardo1 Jan 13, 2009

    recall or impeach those commissioners!

  • irishale Jan 13, 2009

    From the Code of Ethics for County Commissioners from Chatham's web site:
    "Canon One: A County Commissioner Shall Obey the Law - County commissioners shall support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of North Carolina and the laws enacted by the Congress of the United States and the General Assembly."

    And the best part? One of the signatures at the bottom is.. you guessed it... George Lucier

  • cold1 Jan 13, 2009

    What did you expect from the puppets of the Chatham coalition?
    Without the illegals who is going to mow their yards and do the house work for pennies? Without the illegals how much less profit will there be on these construction jobs?

    With the other counties around chatham using the ICE programs we now have created a safe havean for them here in chatham. Thank you county commies for being helpful and considerate of those people breaking the law. If I refuse to pay the new property tax increase for the new evalualtion of my property because it will create hardship for my family, will that be acceptable to you? After all what is good for one group of people is good for the other in this great county of equality!!!!!

  • NCPictures Jan 13, 2009

    Hey Chatham residents.... let us know how that turns out for you. And dont come asking for more money when you are over run with illegals and most of the legal people have moved out.

  • Eduardo1 Jan 13, 2009

    concentration camp, you have got to be kidding. We do not want to put them in any camp, deport them. Let them apply the legal way. I do not think that people who do not want them are biased, but they are as illegal as: murderers,robberers,rapists,etc. Many, no doubt are hard-working family people, but that does not take away that they by our law are criminals. The heave entered our country illegally with in most cases false documents, etc

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