CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Donald Trump has recently called out Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden for getting rid of the 287(g) program, which asks sheriff's offices to enforce ICE detainers.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed House Bill 370 Wednesday, which sought to require sheriffs to honor ICE detainers.
The debate and conversation have thrust McFadden into the national spotlight.
"I never thought it would reach this point, and I never thought America would have allowed it to reach this point," said McFadden.
McFadden said his decision to stop participating in 287(g) has also made him a target.
"It's very nasty. It's a very nasty debate. People fear for their lives. I have to be more cautious. I get death threats. I get people openly telling me what they want to do to me and my family," said McFadden.
McFadden said House Bill 370 isn't about immigration; it's about the authority of an elected official.
"Do not erode the powers and duties of an elected sheriff," he said.
Some accuse McFadden of letting dangerous criminals out of jail.
McFadden said there's confusion about the cooperation between the jail and the federal government and what's law versus what is not law.
McFadden said he does cooperate with the federal government.
When deputies cannot determine the immigration status of a person in custody for a felony or a DWI, they notify ICE.
He said the federal government must issue the warrant for criminals they want to keep in jail.
"Have a federal warrant sent to me and that person will remain," he said.
He said there are 425 federal inmates in the Mecklenburg County jail because of federal warrants.
The sheriff said that, ultimately, the immigration issue distracts from the real issues facing the community.
"We aren't even discussing the 70-some murders in Charlotte. We aren't discussing mass shootings. We aren't discussing school shootings. We are so focused on immigration, we have neglected our community," said McFadden.
He said there are important issues to focus on.
"I think we need to focus on violence in the schools, mass shootings and the hate that we are now seeing," said McFadden.
He said he's following the law and will continue to do so, despite the threats.
"I took an oath. I'm going to stick with that oath," said McFadden.
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