Critics of 287g won’t be only ones to speak on law enforcement program at Tuesday meeting

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Members of Comunidad Colectiva, an immigrant advocacy group, plans to speak out against the 287g program at the Mecklenburg County Commissioners meeting Tuesday night.

287g is a federal program that allows law enforcement officers to detain illegal immigrants arrested in Mecklenburg County. The program is voluntary and has been utilized at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office for 12 years.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael has defended the program as a tool to help law enforcement identify who is in the jail and who is in the community.

"It's long overdue that the program has to go," Comunidad Colectiva representative Stefania Arteaga told WBTV Monday night.

Arteaga said she and others have signed up to speak at Tuesday night's meeting. She believes that 287g is leading to unnecessary deportations and fears that people charged for simple misdemeanors could be sent away if they aren't legal citizens.

"I think it's a program that's very much fear-mongering. It's creating a lot of fear in our community and it's not making us safe at all," said Arteaga.

She plans on asking Mecklenburg County leaders to sign her letter condemning the 287g program Tuesday. She said she would also like for them to create a proclamation that opposes 287g.

While Arteaga will likely have other 287g critics with her Tuesday, they won't be the only ones to speak on the topic.

Marcus Philemon, Executive Director of CharMeck Court Watch, said he will be speaking in favor the program at Tuesday night's meeting. He thinks the program is a great benefit to the community.

"This is a federal database that lets people know who this individual may be and do they pose a serious danger to your community," said Philemon in an interview Tuesday.

Philemon regularly keeps tabs on the community's repeat offenders through his watchdog program. He said 287g has helped deport violent criminals and he thinks those who oppose the program have been trying to spread misinformation about it to create a negative narrative.

"Everyone who goes through the 287g program is not deported. However, their information and fingerprints do go in a database and help law enforcement across the United States," said Philemon.

Arteaga said she knows that county commissioners cannot do away with the program, but she hopes they will choose to take a stand against it.

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