Former Sheriff Using Charlotte As Model For ICE Program
Jim Pendergraph, the former sheriff of Mecklenburg County, still considers Charlotte his home despite heading to Washington, D.C., in December.
Pendergraph was born in the county and in law enforcement there for 38 years before taking a job with the Department of Homeland Security. But now he says fighting issues at home with illegal immigration has turned into a national crusade.
“Across the country, if every county did just a little, we could do an awful lot,” he said.
As sheriff in Charlotte, Pendergraph implemented the 287 G program, which allows deputies to run immigration checks on any foreign-born person in jail. In 18 months he’d marked 3,200 people for deportation.
“People saw how successful that program was and they want to do the same thing,” he said.
Pendergraph now helps them do that, acting as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s national liaison for state and local law enforcement.
“The first couple of weeks was literally like drinking from a fire hose,” he said.
He’s traveling a lot and he and his wife are now going back and forth between D.C. and Charlotte, but even in his new national role, he doesn’t forget home.
“North Carolina is going to be a pilot program for the total state rollout of the ICE Access 287 G program, where every sheriff in North Carolina has access to immigration databases that they don't now. North Carolina is going to be first state in the nation to do that, and I like to think I had some influence in North Carolina being picked to do that,” he said.
Pendergraph is actually living in the same building as Congresswoman Sue Myrick. She’s helping him adjust to the new city.
He told Eyewitness News one of the toughest parts of being away from Charlotte – he can’t find good barbecue or fried chicken.