CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released additional information Thursday on more unlawfully present foreign nationals facing serious criminal offenses in Mecklenburg County, who under the county’s ICE non-cooperation policy would currently be released back into the local community where they would be free to re-offend.
These are just the latest examples of unlawfully present aliens charged with serious public safety offenses in Mecklenburg County – yet these latest examples are still currently in local custody. These cases have all been identified by ICE to be illegal aliens subject to an ICE detainer and yet, per current local policy, they would be released back into the local community without notice to ICE.
However, as these persons remain in local custody, should Mecklenburg County reconsider its non-cooperation policy, there is still time to prevent the release of these individuals and instead work cooperatively to protect public safety.
“The only way a person is subject to an ICE detainer in Mecklenburg County is if they are handcuffed and arrested for a crime committed in the local community,” said Acting ICE Director Matt Albence. “The only persons protected by these misguided policies are criminals as the only way a person is subject to a detainer is if they’ve been arrested for a crime beyond anything to do with their immigration status.”
Mecklenburg County Detainers Currently Outstanding
- Current charge(s): Five counts indecent liberties with a child, Three counts statutory sex offense with a child, statutory rape of a child
- Arrest date: May 11, 2019
- Detainer issued: May 11, 2019
- Projected release date: Unknown – next court date October 28, 2019
- Immigration status: Illegally present in the U.S.
- Current charge(s): Three counts trafficking opium or heroin, possession of a stolen firearm
- Arrest date: March 21, 2019
- Detainer issued: March 21, 2019
- Projected release date: Unknown – next court date November 5, 2019
- Immigration status: Illegally present in the U.S.
- Current charge(s): Three counts indecent liberties with a child, two counts statutory sex offense with a child, statutory rape of a child
- Arrest date: April 16, 2019
- Detainer issued: April 16, 2019
- Projected release date: Unknown
- Immigration status: Final Order of Removal
When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. As ICE has repeatedly made clear, when local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement, they not only betray their duty to protect public safety, but force ICE to be more visible in those areas.
“It is past time to put aside all the political rhetoric and listen to the facts – and the fact is, people are being hurt and victimized every day because of jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE,” said Albence.
While making clear the consequences of uncooperative jurisdictions, Albence also commended law enforcement partners who do work with ICE because it is much safer for all involved if ICE officers take custody in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency. Approximately 70 percent of the arrests ICE makes happen after ICE is notified about an alien being released from local jails or state prisons. In fiscal year 2019, ICE has lodged more than 160,000 detainers with local law enforcement agencies.
Acting Director Albence reiterated that ICE is sworn to uphold the federal immigration laws enacted by Congress, and that the agency will carry out its sworn mission, with or without the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies.
“It is my sincere desire to work with local partners to whatever extent they are willing to work with this agency in what should be our shared goal to ensure public safety,” he said. “Uncooperative jurisdictions such as Mecklenburg County should be on notice that as long as criminal offenders are being released, they should get used to seeing a lot more ICE at-large enforcement activity in their communities.”
Nationally, approximately 90 percent of all people arrested by ICE during fiscal year 2019 either had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, had illegally re-entered the United States after being previously removed (a federal felony), or were an immigration fugitive subject to a final order of removal.
Specific to Charlotte, in Fiscal Year 2018, 473 criminal aliens were transferred into ICE custody pursuant to an immigration detainer. In 2019, since the enactment of Mecklenburg’s non-cooperation policy these individuals are instead released into the community where they are free to reoffend until ICE is able to locate and arrest them, or until they commit additional preventable crimes in the community resulting in their arrest again by other law enforcement.
Despite the challenges this policy creates, ICE remains committed to enforcing federal law, and residents should continue to expect a more visible ICE presence in Charlotte while this non-cooperation policy remains in effect, as ICE has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests instead of arrests at the jail where enforcement is safer for everyone involved.
Detainers serve as a legally authorized request, upon which a law enforcement agency may rely, to continue to maintain custody of an alien for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody for removal purposes. Pursuant to ICE policy, all ICE detainers are submitted with an accompanying administrative arrest warrant or warrant of removal depending upon the circumstances of the individual case. ICE places immigration detainers when the agency possesses probable cause to believe an alien is deportable from the United States.
When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets, it negatively impacts public safety.
Sanctuary Policies Put Public Safety at Risk
- Sanctuary policies leave ICE with no choice but to increase enforcement in neighborhoods and workplaces to locate and arrest these persons while they are at-large – increasing the likelihood that other individuals previously not targeted for arrest will be taken into ICE custody.
- It is safer for everyone if ICE takes custody of an alien in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency as opposed to visiting an alien’s residence, place of work, or other public area. Arresting a criminal in the safety, security, and privacy of a jail is always the best option.
- When law enforcement agencies don’t honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat. When ICE Fugitive Operations officers have to go out into the community to proactively locate these criminal aliens, regardless of the precautions they take, it needlessly puts our personnel and potentially innocent bystanders in harm’s way.