North Carolina Latina Elected Officials Question Governor’s Silence on ICE Raids
Durham, North Carolina — Today, the only two Latina elected officials in North Carolina, Durham City Councilwoman Javiera Caballero and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell, sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper to demand action against the inhumane tactics of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in North Carolina.
“As the only two Latina elected officials in the state of North Carolina, we write to underscore our unequivocal support for immigrant communities.”
In the 2018 election, voters in the state’s two most populous counties — Wake and Mecklenberg — elected sheriffs who vowed to keep them safe and refused to engage in ICE’s inhumane deportation machine. In an immediate retaliation, ICE moved to detain over 200 members of the community.
Since the terror began in December, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has stayed silent.
An excerpt from the letter:
“We look to our state and federal leaders to stand firmly in solidarity with those most harmed by immigration policies and to that end, we call on our respective Congressional members:, Representative Adams, Representative Butterfield, & Representative Price, as well as Senator Burr & Senator Tillis, to fully engage in good faith immigration reform negotiations and help put an end to this desperate situation.”
**FULL LETTER BELOW**
February 25, 2019
Councilwoman Javiera Caballero
Durham City Council
101 City Hall Plaza
Durham, NC 27701
Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell
Mecklenburg County Commission
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Governor Roy Cooper
North Carolina Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
Dear Honorable Governor Cooper,
Immigrants have chosen to make North Carolina home for generations. Their contributions to our state have enabled us to grow and thrive in innumerable ways, consistently placing our respective municipalities–Mecklenburg County and the City of Durham– and our state on lists of ‘best places to live.’ As the only two Latina elected officials in the state of North Carolina, we write to underscore our unequivocal support for immigrant communities, particularly the Latinx community of North Carolina. We urge you to stand in solidarity with our communities by condemning the sweeping activity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that has led to the detention of over 200 of our Latinx neighbors who were torn away from their families as a result of workplace and community raids. We further urge you to use your executive power to order ICE to cease and desist their reckless enforcement actions in the great state of North Carolina, and to bar ICE agents from state property without a judicial warrant or order.
In recent weeks, ICE targeted counties that democratically elected Sheriffs who ran on campaigns pledging to end the 287(g) program in their municipalities, including our own. At a press conference on February 8, 2019, ICE Atlanta Field Office Director, Sean Gallagher, stated that “the new normal” is to expect more visible ICE presence in the community. This is unacceptable.
We stand in firm support of Sheriff McFadden of Mecklenburg County and Sheriff Birkhead of Durham County, and their decisions to end the 287(g) program and the honoring of ICE detainers in their counties. The 287(g) program is an optional program that deputizes local sheriff deputies to do the work of ICE. This program has existed in North Carolina since 2007 and has eroded trust in local law enforcement, led to racial profiling, and has been a costly burden on the municipalities that opted into this program.
North Carolinians made their voices loud and clear in 2018 elections across the state, by electing Sheriffs who committed to end this flawed program. Now we are seeing a federal agency strong-arming our Sheriffs by coming into our state seeking retaliation. Our communities are left in fear and traumatized. No child should live in fear that their parents may be gone when they return from school. This federal agency is operating under the guise of ‘homeland security,’ but their work in the last few weeks undermines public safety in our communities. The narrative that is being used to paint immigrants as criminals for merely being present in our country is a false one. Being undocumented in the United States is a civil–and not a criminal–violation and is largely due to political policy failure.
As local political leaders, we are limited in our power to contain the damage ICE is causing in our communities. We look to our state and federal leaders to stand firmly in solidarity with those most harmed by immigration policies and to that end, we call on our respective Congressional members:, Representative Adams, Representative Butterfield, & Representative Price, as well as Senator Burr & Senator Tillis, to fully engage in good faith immigration reform negotiations and help put an end to this desperate situation. We believe that our neighbors, families, and friends have the right to exist, live in peace, work, worship, and, contribute to our great state without fear of persecution.
JAVIERA CABALLERO, Durham City Council
SUSAN RODRIGUEZ-MCDOWELL, Mecklenburg County Commission
Cc: Hon. Attorney General, Stein
Hon. Senator Tillis
Hon. Senator Burr
Hon. Representative Adams
Hon. Representative Butterfield
Hon. Representative Price