‘Continued decisions to refuse cooperation with ICE serve as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that these counties are a safe haven…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A North Carolina sheriff who has made headlines for releasing dangerous illegal aliens back into the community did it again, setting free a Mexican national convicted of killing a motorcyclist—in defiance a detainer request by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE announced that it had re-arrested Jose Barajas–Diaz, who was convicted in October of felony death by motor vehicle and given a five-year, suspended sentence with credit for time served.
Barajas–Dias was drunk when his pickup truck made a U-turn into the path of an oncoming motorcycle, killing the driver, at a busy Charlotte intersection in January, reported Fox 46. He had an open container in the truck and no operator’s license.
Rather than comply with ICE’s request to remand Barajas–Diaz into their custody, Garry McFadden, the sheriff of Mecklenburg County and the greater Charlotte area, released the criminal, forcing ICE to undertake its own arrest a week later.
“This is yet another example of a clear public safety threat being released into North Carolina communities rather than into ICE custody due to local sheriff policies on ICE non-cooperation,” said Acting ICE Director Matt Albence in a statement.
“Continued decisions to refuse cooperation with ICE serve as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that these counties are a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Mecklenburg County are less safe due to these misguided sanctuary policies,” Albence said.
ICE’s announcement on Monday came, ironically, as the North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that pits the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office against two illegal immigrants who said McFadden’s predecessor unlawfully detained them while cooperating with ICE, reported Raleigh’s News & Observer.
Even though McFadden defeated former Sheriff Irwin Carmichael last November by campaigning on a platform largely based around his refusal to cooperate with ICE, the issue at stake in the case now before the court is whether the state has any jurisdiction in establishing its own policies for cooperating with federal immigration agencies.
Lawyers for detained illegal immigrants Carlos Chavez and Luis Lopez argued that the sheriff violated their rights by remanding them into ICE custody, but a state appeals court overturned the verdict in their favor.
“If allowed to stand, this would be a disturbing precedent,” claimed the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, “potentially preventing state courts in North Carolina from overseeing the behavior of North Carolina police, even when they engage in clear misconduct or accommodate plainly unlawful detainer requests.”
However, the reverse may also be true as state legislators recently passed a bill that would give judges the authority to hold accountable and possibly remove sheriffs who refuse to comply with ICE.
Although the bill was vetoed by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, McFadden and a coalition of six other left-wing sheriffs in the North Carolina’s largest urban areas likely fear the precedent that the case could set if state courts were given authority and jurisdiction to regulate their immigration policies.
The bill was a direct response to earlier episodes in which McFadden had flouted ICE detainers, including that of a Honduran domestic-abuser who engaged in a nine-hour hostage standoff with SWAT team members before he was taken in by local authorities—only to be released again shortly thereafter, forcing ICE to re-arrest him for a third time.
McFadden has repeatedly pointed the finger at everyone but himself for the problem of violent criminals being released back into communities—often making law-abiding immigrants in those communities the most vulnerable victims.
In response to ICE’s criticism over past incidents, he has claimed the burden was on the agency to obtain a warrant through a federal court, which would have forced him to cooperate with the detainer request.
ICE has said the extra step would be counter-productive to its efforts when an outstanding warrant for the arrest already exists.
“ICE is willing to work with local partners on ways to fulfill our shared goal of ensuring community safety,” said ICE Atlanta Interim Field Office Director John Tsoukaris.
“Unfortunately, elected law enforcement officials who chose not to collaborate with ICE and try to justify their actions by stating they are protecting their community are placing politics above public safety and are actually failing in their most basic duty of protecting their communities,” Tsoukaris continued.
He said it defied logic why McFadden would willfully endanger the community he’s sworn to protect, while also increasing the federal agency’s presence rather than reducing it.
“Uncooperative jurisdictions such as Mecklenburg County should be on notice that as long as criminal offenders are being released, they should get used to seeing a lot more ICE at-large enforcement activity in their communities,” Tsoukaris said.