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The Daily Tar Heel

Local authorities affirm support for immigrants in NC

Irena Como, staff attorney at the ACLU of North Carolina, said if local law enforcement has an agreement with ICE, they could contact them about an undocumented person at a checkpoint if that person had a previous criminal record.

But the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement it will not act like immigration enforcement agencies.

“We will put fear and bias aside and treat all people with the respect and courtesy they deserve,” the statement said.

Capt. Joshua Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said there will be no checkpoints in collaboration with ICE in the town.

A rumored checkpoint in Chapel Hill on Erwin Road was untrue, Mecimore said.

“We’ve had some confusion in thinking that speed enforcement has something to do with checkpoints,” he said. “Those are two very different things.”

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said immigrants have nothing to fear from his office.

“If we do any checkpoints, like a driver’s license checkpoint, we’re not doing that for immigration purposes,” he said.

There are patterns by which cars are stopped at checkpoints, such as stopping every third car, Blackwood said.

“(This is) so that officers don’t have the discretion to only stop the cars they want to,” Mecimore said.

Como said it would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment for officers to set up checkpoints without cause to target specific populations.

Mecimore said officers would only inquire about nationality if an individual’s embassy requires the officer to report arrests, or if they are in the system.

President Donald Trump’s executive order has not changed local law enforcement policies, Mecimore said.

The Chapel Hill police will continue to work with local organizations like El Centro Hispano to encourage immigrants to attend Faith ID drives, he said.

“That helps them use that ID around the community in different situations,” he said.

Informational checkpoints, which might be set up near break-ins, would most likely not require ID to be shown, Blackwood said.

Checkpoints must be approved by a supervisor and their chain of command, and there must be a statistical need for them, he said.

Mecimore said after the checkpoint is held, the department follows up to determine if it improved safety.

“We will continue to work hard to build good relationships with everyone in our community, including immigrants,” Mecimore said.

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