Immigrant activists are planning to challenge the Charlotte City Council with a list of demands at a public forum Monday night, including a demand that the city distribute funds for legal services needed by immigrants fighting deportation proceedings.
The group Comunidad Colectiva says their intent is to fill all 200 seats at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center so they can convince Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the Charlotte City Council to take immediate steps to protect the undocumented immigrant community.
A Facebook post says the effort is being backed by two other groups, the Southeast Asian Coalition and Familias Unidas.
Supporters of the plan will gather at Marshall Park at 5 p.m., then walk the block to City Council meeting, something that could cause traffic issues at the evening rush hour.
Activist Rosalba Tlalolini told the newspaper Que Pasa Mi Gente that the group Comunidad Colectiva believes the council is misinformed about the frequency of arrests being made in the city by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
“I do not know what sources consult the councilmen, but they are wrong,” she told the newspaper. “President Trump himself said that with the raids he was fulfilling his campaign promise.”
A Facebook post of demands says the group wants city leaders to fight a North Carolina statute, known as House Bill 318, that prohibits local governments from restricting law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration officials. It also wants the city to opposed the federal 287(g) program in which local police collaborate with immigration agencies.
The activists want Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police to use discretion when dealing with undocumented immigrants, including refusing to tell federal officials when an undocumented immigrant is arrested. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police currently have a policy of not enforcing federal immigration laws.
Comunidad Colectiva also wants a “distribution of funds to provide legal services for immigrants in deportation proceedings.”
It was not made clear where those funds would come from.
Experts estimate 54,000 people in Mecklenburg County are living illegally in the country. President Donald Trump has vowed to adhere more closely to the nation’s immigration laws, which were only partially enforced by the Obama administration.
Since Trump’s election, social media has exploded in Charlotte with reports of ICE raids of businesses, roadblock arrests and even arrests at Charlotte Mecklenburg schools. One rumor drew national attention: An accusation that ICE was arresting undocumented immigrants as they walked out of the Center of Hope homeless shelter in the morning.
It was completely false, says the shelter.
ICE has a standing policy against making arrests at so called “sensitive sites,” including schools, hospitals and churches. It has also denied conducting raids or roadblocks in Charlotte. The CMPD has also denied ICE roadblocks were conducted with the aid of city police.
The president of the N.C. Democratic Party’s Hispanic Caucus blasted the Charlotte City Council in a letter Friday, saying council members’ “silence on recent ICE raids has been both deafening and painful.”
However, city officials say advocates for undocumented immigrants are asking the city to tackle issues that are out of its control, including opposing federal laws.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts has encouraged the activists “to raise your voices to federal officials.”
City leaders say the state has threatened to take millions of dollars of funding from the city if it opposes programs like 287(g).