Elected officials locally and across the country signed a joint statement calling for the abolishment of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday. Local signees include the entire Carrboro Board of Alderman as well as officials in Chapel Hill, Durham and Hillsborough.
The more than 100 officials that signed on include state legislators, mayors, city council members, county officials and school board members across the country, including in New York, Kentucky and Arizona.
The statement is in response to recent ICE activity locally and around the country. In April, ICE conducted a raid that lead to 25 people across the Triangle area being picked up, according to a local press release on the statement.
According to Carrboro Mayor Pro Tempore Damon Seils, Carrboro responded to the raid through the renewal of partnerships with local organizations and holding a “Know Your Rights” event shortly after that raid.
“It tore apart some families, as ICE has made a habit of doing around the country recently,” Seils said. “We’ve been trying to help people pick up the pieces since then.”
Seils said the community will continue to support these kinds of events as long as they need to so people will understand what their rights are.
“ICE spends more time destroying communities than it does keeping communities safe while violating basic civil and human rights," the joint statement said. "The experiment that is ICE has failed, and must be ended as soon as possible."
Other officials that have signed the statement include Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Chapel Hill Town Council member Karen Stegman, Hillsborough Mayor Pro Tempore Jennifer Weaver and Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin. Stegman is the only Chapel Hill official that has signed onto the statement so far.
Matt Hughes, Hillsborough commissioner, also signed the statement.
“Whenever we look at our nation’s immigration system, it’s clearly hopelessly broken and ICE – in particular the Enforcement and Removal Operations unit, which is exactly what most people think of when they think of ICE raids – is emblematic of that dysfunction," Hughes said.
Both Seils and Hughes pointed out that the actions taken by ICE have caused a rift between law enforcement and immigrant communities.
“What ICE has been doing in our communities and other communities across the state, across the country, is breaking families up," Seils said. "Not engaging in targeted enforcement but in fact engaging in indiscriminate immigration raids that are making people frightened."
Hughes said that this mistrust of law enforcement also leads to issues of public safety and new challenges for local law enforcement.
“Many of the local law enforcement agencies that I’m aware of have worked very, very hard to build a good rapport with the local immigrant communities and making sure that they know they can come to local law enforcement when they have issues, related to domestic violence, for example.” Hughes said.
According to Seils, the statement continues to be signed and will be updated on a daily basis. He said that the goal of this statement is to provoke action on a larger scale.
“One thing we hope will come out of this statement is support for legislation at the federal level to abolish ICE," Seils said. "A couple of members of Congress are looking to introduce such legislation now, and I’m hopeful that our local representative Congressman (David) Price will support that bill."
Recently, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan announced plans to introduce legislation to abolish ICE, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have publicly called for getting rid of the bureau.
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