ICE arrests impact DPS, Durham

There have been about 200 arrests in North Carolina this week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The raids initially took place outside of Durham, but on Thursday a man was arrested outside of Hillside High School while dropping off his child.

“He was pulled over,” said El Centro Hispano community organizer Ivan Almonte. “He left the car there. The child was just crying. That’s traumatizing for the kids. They’re facing all these traumas, all these fears.”

ABC 11 reported Friday that El Centro Hispano is working with three Durham families who have been affected by ICE arrests.

Twenty seven people were arrested Tuesday at Bear Creek Arsenal, a gun manufacturing company in Sanford, North Carolina. ICE officials say that 25 were identified using criminal search warrants, and are clear that these local raids are not random or unusual.

“As to reports of ICE officers conducting immigration enforcement in North Carolina, ICE conducts targeted immigration arrests everyday as part of its ongoing mission to enforce federal immigration law,” said ICE spokesman Bryan Cox in a statement to WFMY News 2, posted Wednesday.

ABC 11 also reported Friday that 140 of the approximately 200 arrests involved suspects with either pending charges or criminal convictions, or those who had been previously deported and reentered the country illegally.

“Sixty other people arrested were not specifically targeted,” ABC 11 reported. “Instead they were arrested when they could not verify their legal status for ICE agents who were searching for other undocumented people.”

Local advocacy groups have been vocal about the arrests and students on social media have reposted warnings of ICE vehicle sightings.

Durham Public Schools superintendent Pascal Mubenga issued a statement that “DPS continues to welcome every student.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that young people of school age are entitled to attend public schools regardless of their immigration status,” Mubenga wrote.

Durham Association of Educators president Bryan Proffitt reiterated the district’s need to support students and families.

“We know that several of our students’ families have been directly impacted,” Proffitt wrote in a message to DPS faculty and staff, “and we are already hearing of the fear that is keeping students from going to school and families from taking care of their basic needs.” 

Sanford Mayor Chet Mann said that no information of the Bear Creek Arsenal arrests was shared beforehand with the City of Sanford, but Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said that his local deputies responded to the agency’s request for assistance with enforcement.

In a press conference Friday, Sean Gallagher, who oversees ICE in the Carolinas and Georgia, said that the raids are the result of a lack of cooperation on the part of newly elected local law enforcement with federal immigration efforts.

“Some of the dangerous policies that some of our county sheriffs have put into place…really forces my officers to go out onto the street to conduct more enforcement operations,” Gallagher said.

In December, both Durham and Wake Counties stopped holding people in county jail for federal immigration enforcement with the election of Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker and Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.

“Baker also pulled Wake County out of the federal 287(g) program in which local law enforcement agencies work with ICE to check the immigration status of people charged with crimes,” WRAL reported.

“It’s about caring for people,” Baker said in December of his decision. “It totally defeats our purpose when we’ve got people in this county who need us, and they’re more concerned about deportation than allowing us to come and help them.”

Graphic by Jennifer Dominguez

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