Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop on Tuesday called on Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden to resign over what he called the “reckless policies” that twice led to the release of a Honduran man arrested on charges related to domestic violence.
Bishop also challenged Democrat Dan McCready, his opponent in the special 9th District congressional race, to sign a petition calling for McFadden’s resignation.
The case of Luis Pineda-Ancheta sparked a firestorm of protests from U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray as well as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
Last week, Murray charged Pineda-Ancheta with illegally reentering the United States after being deported. He had been arrested twice in May on charges related to domestic violence, once following a nine-hour standoff with a police SWAT team. After his second release from jail on June 1, he was arrested by ICE a day later.
ICE officials said Pineda-Ancheta’s second release was the result of McFadden’s decisions to halt cooperation on federal immigration enforcement.
Before his election in November, McFadden pledged to end the controversial 287(g) program, which enables sheriff’s deputies to assist in immigration enforcement. Since 2006, the program had seen ICE begin deportation proceedings on over 15,000 immigrants living here illegally.
McFadden went further: He also stopped honoring ICE detainers — requests by the agency to hold an individual in jail for ICE — and stopped telling ICE when inmates with detainers were being released from jail.
“Sheriff McFadden was charged with protecting the safety of our citizens, but instead he put them at risk in favor of his radical liberal agenda,” Bishop said in a statement. “He needs to resign and other sanctuary sheriffs like him must be stopped.”
Immigration activists, however, have accused ICE of politicizing Pineda-Ancheta’s case to serve the agency’s own agenda. They have said that if Pineda-Ancheta was here legally, he would have been released without any fanfare.
A magistrate or judge, not the sheriff or his deputies, is responsible for determining if — and how — someone is released from jail.
In April, the N.C. House passed a bill that would require North Carolina sheriffs to honor all immigration detainers. The bill, HB 370, is now in the Senate.
McFadden, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detective, has said the 287(g) program hurts local law enforcement by making immigrants wary of police. He also hinted that a higher bail could have been set for Pineda-Ancheta. Last week, he said restoring collaboration with ICE would hurt public safety, not improve it.
“I appreciate the fact that Sen. Bishop must appeal to the politically conservative base in all of District 9,” McFadden said in a statement, “however, (I) was elected by the people of Mecklenburg County to represent all of Mecklenburg County, and only Mecklenburg County.”
“Sen. Bishop has never worked in law enforcement and has no personal experience grappling with the monumental task facing law enforcement every day in our attempts to build trust between our agencies and all segments of a large and fast-growing community,” he said. “(I)f people do not trust law enforcement, those people will not engage with law enforcement, and crimes will continue to go unsolved.”
McCready said the Pineda-Ancheta case is “sadly just the latest example of how terribly broken our current immigration system is.”
“The problem here is the complete failure out of Washington to work together to fix the loopholes and put in place a comprehensive immigration plan,” he said in a statement. “Until we see a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform that secures our border, respects our laws and protects our American values, these awful incidents will keep happening.”
Unlike Democrats such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, McCready would not abolish ICE. On his web page, he said Congress should bolster such agencies “in a way that upholds human rights while completing their missions.”
This latest back-and-forth in the continuing debate over Pineda-Ancheta’s case follows a week of unusually high immigration arrests in North Carolina.
About two dozen immigrants were arrested by ICE last week, including at least six in the Charlotte area, said Andrew Willis Garces of the Greensboro immigrant rights group Siembra NC, which tracks the agency’s arrests statewide.
ICE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. They typically do not release statistics on weekly or statewide arrest figures.
On at least two occasions, the manager of a mobile home park in west Charlotte barred ICE agents from entering the property, Telemundo Charlotte reported. Video circulating on social media also showed one man successfully running out of a truck that had been pulled over by immigration agents.