Last week ICE launched retaliatory raids throughout North Carolina after a number of municipalities broke off cooperation agreements with the agency. ICE Regional Director Sean Gallaghar said, “This is the direct conclusion of dangerous policies of not cooperating with ICE,” according to the Charlotte Observer. Two hundred immigrants were reportedly arrested.
While it has long been suspected that ICE has used the arrest of immigrants as a tool to bully states, counties, and cities to assist in immigration enforcement, this is a rare instance in which an ICE spokesman has admitted to doing so. In December, three of the state’s largest counties, Mecklenburg, Durham, and Wake, reduced cooperation with ICE.
Many of the arrests took place during ICE traffic stops. These stops do not target individuals, but instead are dragnets that lead to random incarcerations of immigrants. A third of those arrested had no prior ICE or criminal justice involvement and were arrested solely for being undocumented. Gallagher said that “If they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, my officers will take an enforcement action.”
The ICE agents wore jackets identifying them as “Police,” a fact which local law enforcement says is driving up fear of the police in immigrant communities. ICE told local officials that this “is the new normal.”