Trump immigration chiefs in Raleigh call out Wake County sheriff, others on ICE cooperation

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Trump immigration chiefs call out Wake sheriff on ICE cooperation
Trump immigration chiefs call out Wake sheriff on ICE cooperation

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Just a few downtown blocks from the county jail overseen by Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker, the nation's top two immigration enforcers were huddling with legislative Republicans to blast Baker's refusal to help the feds hold on to suspected undocumented immigrants.

"Simply put, sanctuary policies do not protect communities. They endanger them," said Chad Wolf, President Trump's pick as Acting Homeland Security Secretary.

Relief from one side, anger from the other as Cooper vetoes ICE bill

Wolf along with Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matt Albence were invited to the Capital to make their case that Baker and other North Carolina sheriffs are putting politics above public safety -- by refusing to detain suspected undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours after their charges are adjudicated -- so ice agents can detain and deport them.

NC Sheriff's Association now supports controversial immigration bill

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore called it a roundtable discussion. All of the speakers were decidedly on the side the Trump Administration.

"I'm telling ICE, you have a place in my detention center any time you want it," Alamance Sheriff Terry Johnson told the roundtable. "And I'm proud to be a part of that program."

Raleigh immigration advocate Moises Serrano says he and others with his group El Pueblo were barred from entering Monday's meeting.

"This roundtable is absolutely an intimidation tactic," Serrano said, insisting the discussion and the new ICE website which explicitly calls out Wake County's sheriff and other sheriffs for not assisting ICE is part of a larger anti-immigrant strategy to undo the will of voters.

"People overwhelmingly voted for sheriffs who decided to end ICE agreements, 287g agreements," Serrano said. "And now we're looking at a federal administration trying to override the will of North Carolinians."

Back at the Wake County Sheriff's Office, Gerald Baker was not backing down.

In a statement to ABC11, Baker said: "Let me be clear, it's makes no difference whether a person is in this country legally or illegally, if he or she breaks any law in this county, they will be arrested and prosecuted. Any individual released from the Wake County Detention Center has met requirements of bail set by the courts."

It's been three months since Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed House Bill 370, a Republican-backed measure to force North Carolina sheriffs to work with ICE.

Three months after the veto, there's been no effort to override it.