You may have read about the Sheriff's decision to join a federal program called ICE. There
was an article in the News & Observer over the weekend explaining Sheriff Pendergrass' position. Since that article ran, I have received numerous emails from concerned citizens including members of the County's Human Relations Commission.
Below is the text of an email from a member of the HRC. He articulates as clearly as anyone has what the concerns with this program are. Since there have been so many questions raised by the public, I thought it might be helpful to share what he had to say. Read on....
“Negative impact of the "Secure Communities" program
In its January 2007 resolution opposing cooperation with ICE, the Orange County Board of Commissioners commited, "not to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws or take any other action that might result in racial profiling or create a climate of fear and hostility for any community in the County."
Under the "Secure Communities" program, fingerprints of people arrested will automatically be checked against Department of Homeland Security databases to access immigration history information. The automated process notifies ICE when fingerprints match those of an unauthorized immigrant. ICE officers then follow up and take appropriate action.
The ICE "Secure Communities" program will produce negative impacts for Orange County residents and communities:
* Local law enforcement will provide immigration information about Orange County residents to ICE;
* Individuals with minor misdemeanors and driving-related offenses can be detained by ICE;
* Individuals that are arrested but not convicted of a crime can still be picked up by ICE agents;
* Informal racial and ethnic profiling will occur under the discretion of arresting officers;
* The program will produce a chilling effect in our immigrant communities - causing lack of trust of law enforcement, misunderstandings about the program, reluctance to report crime, and further marginalization of immigrant communities that results in a more tense and dangerous environment for everyone.
Surely the 2007 Resolution was intended to prevent this very situation.”