16 released from jail after Wake sheriff ends participation in immigration program
Since being sworn in more than a week ago, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker has followed through on his promise to end the county’s participation in the federal 287(g) program.
Wake County had been one of only six in North Carolina that partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to transfer to federal custody people who have been arrested and are believed to be in the U.S. illegally.
Baker said he made the decision not to participate in the immigration program because he wants to see difference in the trust between law enforcement and Hispanic communities.
“At this point, the sheriff is not going to be honoring those requests of detaining individuals from ICE,” legal advisor Rick Brown said.
Just two weeks after Baker was sworn in, 16 people under ICE detainers have been released after either serving their standard time or posting bond.
An additional 79 people remain in custody on state charges, but the sheriff said he will not honor those ICE detainers either.
“Since that is a voluntary program, we withdrew from that. The detainers themselves, as we looked at those, are, again, requests. They are not court ordered. If they were court ordered, we’d have to abide by it,” Brown said.
ICE has gone on record responding to Baker’s stance, saying his decision will not decrease its presence in Wake County.
“In fact, residents should expect a more visible ICE presence in the Raleigh-Durham area, as ICE will now have no choice but to conduct more at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work sites,” ICE said in a statement.
ICE also said that collateral arrests should be expected as a result of increased arrests in neighborhoods and worksites.
Baker said he simply wants his focus to be elsewhere when it comes to communities most impacted by Wake County’s former participation in the program.
“I’m more concerned about having them feel comfortable enough to contact this office when they need our help. That’s more important to me,” he said.