A North Carolina sheriff who has refused to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials but last month said he wanted to build a relationship with ICE has not made good on his word, according to ICE officials.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden has refused to cooperate with ICE since taking office last December. In September, he publicly asked ICE officials to sit down with him to achieve a form of cooperation.
“This is when you sit down and talk to someone. This is when you come into town and say, ‘how can we help with that problem?’” McFadden said then, according to WBTV.
ICE said that McFadden has not followed those words with action.
“Since our last news conference in Charlotte on September 26, ICE leadership has made multiple attempts to communicate with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the county’s ICE non-cooperation policy, which knowingly releases violent criminal offenders back onto the streets of Charlotte,” Bryan Cox, the acting press secretary for ICE, said, according to The Daily Caller.
“ICE senior leadership has sent email, and made multiple phone calls, over the past four weeks in an attempt to do so. This agency’s efforts to engage in dialogue have received no response,” Cox said.
WBTV said that it was shown documentation that ICE reached out to McFadden.
“Hello Sheriff McFadden, it was good speaking with you today regards to coming up with an agreeable solution on the ICE warrants and Detainers issue. Please contact me once you have discussed with your staff and perhaps we can set up a follow-up call or meeting,” Field Office Director John Tsoukaris wrote in an email, according to WBTV.
Cox said the email was followed up with phone calls to McFadden’s office. No response was received to the calls, Cox said.
The non-partisan, but conservative-leaning, Center for Immigration Studies lists Mecklenberg County as one of many jurisdictions nationally that are considered “sanctuary” areas because of their opposition to working with federal agencies.
McFadden, however, told WBTV that ICE never contacted him after one phone call in which McFadden said he needed to contact organizations of fellow sheriffs to guide him going forward.
“No,” McFadden told the station when asked of has received a phone call from ICE.
”I have not received an email,” he also said.
“I see how they play these games. We had one conversation. One,” McFadden said.
“We had a conversation on the phone and here’s what I said: ‘I can’t create something that no other sheriff’s office is doing,’” McFadden said.
“I said, ‘let me check with the national sheriff association and the local sheriff association.’”
ICE is also highlighting individuals ICE has sought to detain who are now in the Mecklenburg County Jail who it fears could be released, despite felony charges against them.
“We don’t have a crystal ball. They could post bond, if they have a bond set against them. They could complete their sentence. They could be released early. By not having that cooperation with the local sheriffs, ICE has no way of knowing when they’re going to be released,” Henry Lucero, Acting Deputy Associate Executive Director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, said.
Lucero and Cox said that they still want to work with McFadden to find a solution to the ongoing problem of local officials failing to cooperate with ICE.
“The only persons protected by these misguided policies are criminals,” Matt Albence, the acting director of ICE, said in a statement.
“It is past time to put aside all the political rhetoric and listen to the facts – and the fact is, people are being hurt and victimized every day because of jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE,” said Albence.
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