Local News

Cumberland County sheriff withdraws from ICE enforcement program

Posted December 6, 2009 4:22 p.m. EST

— Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler has decided to pull his department's participation in a federal program to identify illegal immigrants charged with crimes.

The federal 287(g) program is administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under it, ICE agents give local law enforcement agencies access to federal immigration databases so they can identify illegal immigrants they have arrested on local charges. ICE trains officers how to initiate deportation cases against those people.

Debbie Tanna, the sheriff's spokeswoman, told WRAL News on Sunday that Butler's decision came after ICE asked for jail space and resources that were not available. The jail operates at full capacity, Tanna added.

ICE also wanted county employees assigned to work with the program to waive their rights to privacy. Bulter said honoring that request would have violated state personnel regulations, according to Tanna.

Cumberland has participated in the program since June 2008.

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted in January against participating in the ICE program, saying that doing so could have negative consequences for the community. Chatham has a significant Latino population.

Wake and Alamance counties still participate in the ICE program, and Orange County is part of a separate ICE program called Secure Communities that doesn't include the deportation portion of 287(g).