CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As his first action in office, new Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden is getting rid of 287g.
It is a voluntary program that holds illegal immigrants who have been arrested in the jail, and notifies ICE officials.
“This is history,” Manolo’s Bakery owner Manolo Betancur says.
As an immigrant business owner, Betancur watched that history unfold within his East Charlotte bakery, the same place McFadden promised to eliminate 287g during his campaign.
“Our neighbors, our friends, our customers, our families, suffering for that ugly thing that was called 287g,” Betancur says.
Now that McFadden has put pen to paper Wednesday, 287g, which existed in Mecklenburg County for 12 years, is no more.
“Now we have to show Charlotte that this is a step in the right direction,” he says. “And I need everybody’s help to show Charlotte, and the nation, that we are doing the right thing.”
Activists claim the program targeted immigrants, sometimes using speeding tickets and misdemeanors, without proving guilt of the crimes. These rumors were repeatedly denied by outgoing sheriff Irwin Carmichael.
“[Immigrants] no longer have to fear driving, and a speeding ticket costing them, possibly, separation from their families,” Elisa Benitez says.
This action Wednesday does not mean the end of ICE enforcement in the county.
Back in May, a spokesperson told WBTV, an end to 287g could mean further enforcement.
They said since they wouldn’t encounter illegal immigrants in the jail system, they could seek them out once they have been released back into the community, and they wouldn’t turn a blind eye to others they encounter there, in the process.
"We have to go to a residence, we have to go to a business,” Bryan Cox said over the phone in May. “We have to pull a vehicle over, whatever it may be, to make that arrest for ourselves."
But this group of activists remains hopeful, saying the removal of 287g, to them, is a step in the right direction.
“We are removing the biggest chunk of folks that are being deported that way,” Stefania Arteaga says.
Cox told WBTV back in May, once 287g is eliminated, much of how ICE will proceed in the area will depend on other decisions made by the sheriff.
Wednesday, Sheriff McFadden also pledged to stop honoring requests from ICE to detain immigrants in the Mecklenburg County jail. He did not take any questions at Wednesday’s signing event.