MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - According to officials, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden has began his tenure by ending the county's 287(g) agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The 287(g) program, which allows deputies to run a suspect's name through immigration databases to determine if they're in the country without documentation, has been the center of controversy for years in Mecklenburg County.
“Today, I’m ending ICE’s 287(g) program in Mecklenburg County and joining the majority of police and sheriff departments around the country who have declined to do ICE’s bidding because it erodes trust with our community and ties up critical resources that should be used to ensure public safety,” said McFadden.
The program's termination was one of the first decisions McFadden made after being sworn into office Tuesday, a pledge he made during his campaign.
“My commitment has bee n– and will remain – keeping this community safe. By ending this program, I will utilize unlimited office resources on preventing serious crimes and to improve public safety in our communities,” said McFadden.
It was a moment that Charlotte's Hispanic community has looked forward to for 12 years.
"It's gonna make a huge difference in our community,” said activist Hector Vaca. “People won’t be as fearful going out shopping. People won’t be as fearful going to work."
Vaca, with Action NC, and his group, along with Comunidad Colectiva and the American Civil Liberties Union have been pushing for this change.
"We thought it was essential to make sure the sheriff was here in an area where people have been detained,” said Stephania Arteaga, with Communidad Colectiva.
Officials said the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office "will continue to comply with all federal obligations as they pertain to ICE and follow state laws that apply to determining and sharing information concerning immigration or citizenship status."
According to authorities, Mecklenburg County was one of only approximately 78 counties nationwide--out of more than 3,000--that voluntarily agreed to participate in the program.
While the program was controversial, it has its supporters.
Cheryl Jones, of Courtwatch, believes it's a mistake to do away with it.
"This organization does not agree with them doing away with 2879g),” she said. “It is a tool they can use and it was being used properly."
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