By: Tina Terry
CHARLOTTE — ICE arrested roughly 24 people in North Carolina during its latest operation, officials said Monday.
During a news conference, ICE officials said they targeted Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh last week, and made about two dozen arrests.
Channel 9 reporter Tina Terry rode along with agents as they made those arrests and was there as teams took several undocumented people with criminal charges and convictions into custody.
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Last week, ICE agents brought in a total of 20 people. In about half of those cases, the suspects were in jail and ICE asked the arresting agencies to hold them until they could detain them -– but they told Channel 9 those agencies declined to do so. ICE officials said that puts their agents in danger.
ICE agents started at 4:30 a.m. to look for people who are unlawfully in the U.S., including Joe Ruiz-Quintero.
In June, police charged him with assault with a deadly weapon and sent him to the Mecklenburg County Jail.
ICE asked officials to hold Ruiz-Quintero so that they could pick him up but said he’s one of many that the sheriff’s office refused to hold.
“The decision to choose non-cooperation with ICE puts everyone in more dangerous situations,” said Henry Lucero, executive association director of Enforcement and Removal with ICE. “It’s senseless to not want to work with ICE. It’s senseless to release people onto the streets.”
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden sees it differently.
“It is not me releasing them,” McFadden said. “I’m ordered by a judge or a magistrate to allow these people to go. They have met all conditions of their bond, so I’m following judicial official’s signature and order.”
McFadden wants ICE to get a judge to sign warrants in those cases rather than honoring ICE detainers, which is an agreement between the agencies.
“If you bring me a signed document by a judge, a federal warrant, I will hold him, so that is the practice we should follow,” McFadden said.
Arrest details from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
Total arrests: 24
Arrests by Fugitive Operations Team/Area of Responsibility:
Charlotte: 12 (10 targets/2 collaterals)
Greensboro: 3 (2 targets/1 collateral)
Raleigh: 9 (8 targets/1 collateral)
Declined Detainer Arrests:
1 Guilford County
6 Mecklenburg County
2 Wake County
2 Durham County
No females arrested
No juveniles arrested
No Special Situation Aliens arrested
All arrestees had criminal charges/convictions
Information released by ICE:
“ICE continues to focus its limited resources first and foremost on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety. ICE only conducts targeted enforcement and does not conduct any type of indiscriminate raids or sweeps that target aliens indiscriminately. The agency’s arrest stats clearly reflects this reality. Nationally, approximately 90% of all persons arrested by ICE during FY19 either had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, or were already subject to a removal order issued by a federal immigration judge.
“Aliens placed into removal proceedings receive all appropriate legal process before the federal immigration courts, which are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case.