CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael tried to dispel what he called "misinformation" about a partnership with a federal immigration program.
On Monday, even as the Sheriff was speaking, demonstrators entered the jail to try to tell Carmichael the program is not necessary and must be ended.
The Sheriff said some city officials had questioned the program and he was open to discussing it with any officials who were interested.
"It doesn’t target anyone,” said Carmichael of the 287 (g) program.
Carmichael faced reporters surrounded by blow-ups of mugshots of suspects who had been arrested for charges ranging from murder to attempted murder and drug dealing.
He said through the program, it was determined that each of the suspects was in the country illegally and they were then processed for deportation.
Carmichael said the program is his only way of determining who is being booked into the jail.
“The knowledge is critical in protecting my staff and maintaining a safe work environment for law enforcement inside our jail,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael is facing a challenge in the upcoming election from two other candidates who are both opposed to 287 (g).
One of his opponents, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detective Gary McFadden, said the program leads the immigrant community to not trust law enforcement officers.
McFadden joined protestors today outside of Carmichael’s news conference saying, “it does lead to mistrust. They are afraid to talk with law enforcement. They are afraid to report crimes so I think that is mistrust.”
The 287 (g) program was instituted back in 2006 in Mecklenburg County. It calls for anyone booked into the jail to be checked for proper immigration documentation.
To date, nearly 15,500 inmates have been processed for deportation.
The demonstrators, who were outside, marched around to the front of the jail and entered the lobby asking to deliver a letter of protest to the Sheriff.
Deputies ordered the protestors to leave which they did peacefully.
Outside, one of their leaders Oliver Merino said, “we are here as taxpayers and community members who wanted to talk with elected officials. We’ve been kicked out.”