This comes as Siembra NC says there have been at least 32 arrests across 10 North Carolina counties in the last month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
These arrests, per Siembra NC, have happened as people have been going to various appointments or to work. In a couple of cases, men were picked up while agents were looking for other people.
In a Friday news conference announcing recent arrests, including 16 in Wake County, US Attorney for the Eastern District, Robert Higdon, said, "ICE agents have been required to go out into the community, investigate the whereabouts of these individuals who only recently were in sheriffs custody, locate them and arrest them."
"ICE doesn't want our neighbors to have a 'first chance,' to say nothing of a second chance," said Durham councilmember Javiera Caballero in a news release. "We have a judicial system that protects our communities. These detentions undermine that system, they undermine the faith immigrant community members have that if they don't flee the scene of an accident, that if they follow the instructions of local law enforcement, if they show up for their court and probation appointments, they will be better off than if they don't."
In addition to the new fund, Siembra NC is also working with a partnering organization to create a new court and probation accompaniment program called Nadie Va Solo, translated to "No one goes alone."
Ana Flores’ nephew was detained by ICE agents while he was in an appointment.— DeJuan Hoggard (@DeJuanABC11) February 17, 2020
“He made a mistake and he was trying to fix it. And then he was taken from us. And that’s not right,” she said.
Now she is advocating for change. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/EhB8UtUeMj
Training sessions are planned for Durham County, Alamance County, and the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas within the next month and a half. The goal is to train 30 volunteers to accompany undocumented immigrants and inform them of their legal rights when in appointments.
Ana Flores' nephew was recently detained by ICE agents in Raleigh.
"He made a mistake and he was trying to fix it. And then he was taken from us," Flores said. "And that's not right. If they want people to be here and do the right thing, they need to give people a chance to fix when they make mistakes; to get a second chance ... we're not criminals."
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Among those at the Monday news conference were leaders from Durham, Wake, and Guilford counties.
"If people felt like they had due process in the system then that would be reassuring. But given that the system is the way it is, I don't think any promises can be trusted," said Durham councilmember Jillian Johnson. "We have a system of laws. But we also have to hold onto justice. We have to hold onto what's right. And people are crossing the border because they have no other choice. People aren't crossing the border, their home, and their community if they felt they could be safe there."
The dates and location of the accompaniment training are as follows:
- Durham: March 25, 6:30 p.m. Location TBA
- Alamance County: March 28, 4 p.m. Location TBA
- Greensboro: Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. at Universalist Unitarian Church of Greensboro
- Winston-Salem: March 2, 7 p.m. Malloy Jordan Library
ABC11 reached out to ICE on Monday in regard to the new announcements and has yet to hear back.