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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have reportedly detained at least 10 people in Orange and Chatham County, according to El Centro Hispano. 

Chapel Hill and Carrboro Police Department were not involved in the detainments conducted by ICE but were notified of the detainments when they occurred. Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue and Mayor Pam Hemminger said they are committed to serving every community member regardless of their citizenship status.

“The Chapel Hill Police Department’s position will always reflect our belief that immigration enforcement is best left to the federal agencies,” said Chief Blue. “We hope that the most vulnerable among us will see us as the guardians of the hill, not as an entity to be feared.”

Hemminger and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle expressed similar sentiments regarding their shock with the way the ICE operations were handled. 

“I cannot adequately express how frightening this news must be for our neighbors who live in constant fear that these actions may happen on any given day in our town,” Lavelle said in a statement.

Bryan Cox, the ICE Southern regional director of communications, said ICE does not make random arrests, but that officers have a list with specific names of undocumented individuals at specific locations to look for each day. Due to limited resources, they must make prioritized decisions as to which individuals to target. 

“If we go to a location and are looking for a person who is a public safety threat and we happen to come across someone else who is there who so happens to also be in the country unlawfully, it’s true that we’re not going to turn a blind eye and we’ll probably take them too,” Cox said. 

Eliazar Posada, the community engagement and advocacy manager for El Centro Hispano, said it’s important for individuals to know their rights. Everyone has the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney and the right to not open the door. 

Posada said that if an ICE agent claims to have a warrant, it is important to have them slide it under the door or put it against the glass to verify the warrant is for someone in the building and signed by a magistrate.

“We’re telling folks to know your rights,” Posada said. “We all have rights regardless of immigration status.”

El Centro Hispano is hosting a Know Your Rights event this Saturday at 8:30 a.m. in Carrboro’s Century Center where local officials and law enforcement will be available to answer any questions. 

Rubi Franco Quiroz from the NC Dream Coalition said things can become complicated when individuals are directly confronted by ICE officials face to face. She said it is important that individuals do not answer questions and know that they do not have to show identification.

Quiroz also said many times family members do not speak fluent English, which makes it harder to communicate. She said it’s important to keep local officials accountable, especially in circumstances like these. 

“They say they are trying to support our communities, but when things like this happen it definitely sets people back and people are very afraid of the police to begin with,” Quiroz said.

The Town of Chapel Hill has Crisis Counselors available to provide support to family members of those detained and anyone in the community impacted by these events. For assistance, please call (919)-968-2806.

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