RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County has officially ended the 287 (g) agreement, which allowed the sheriff's office to turn over undocumented immigrants charged with crimes to federal immigration authorities.
New sheriff Gerald Baker promised to end the program when he was elected.
"We get rid of that program, and that's a federal program. Let them deal with it, let them enforce it," he said at the time.
On Friday, Baker said he hopes that all Wake County residents will feel more comfortable calling the sheriff's office when they're in need of assistance.
"We campaigned for over a year about trying to make it one Wake County, one sheriff's office and serving everybody the same way and treating everybody the same way," Baker said Friday at a news conference announcing the change in policy. "We're trying to improve the quality of life of each and every person that resides in this county."
The program had been in effect in Wake County since 2007 and in that time, an estimated 1,500 people had been deported as a result.
The policy also allowed local officers to serve arrest warrants for immigration violations.
"I'm so happy because my family and community can drive and can go outside without interference," said Griselda Alonso, a community activist. "So this is a program has been here for 10 years and it's been a problem."
Former Sheriff Donnie Harrison supported the program.
"I still believe in the 287 (g)," he said last month. "I think it keeps everybody safe, Hispanic, Latinos and everybody else. And I've had a ton of people in Hispanic communities say 'keep it, we feel safer knowing that you'll do the right thing if somebody is in our neighborhood and not supposed to be.'"
The agreement has been a point of contention for years and became a focus leading up to the midterm election.
The ACLU of North Carolina vocally opposed the policy and spent thousands of dollars on radio ads targeting Harrison's position.
In May, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael, a supporter of the 287 (g) program, was defeated in a primary by Garry McFadden, who pledged to end the county's participation in the agreement.