CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A small group of people gathered in front of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse Wednesday night to protest against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Stefania Arteaga of Comunidad Colectiva helped organize the gathering. Arteaga said that word of an ICE detainment spread on social media Wednesday. The rumor was that at least one person was detained by undercover ICE agents who were waiting at the courthouse. This had many people at Wednesday’s protest upset.
"We don't want ICE in this community. We're not gonna stand down. We're gonna continue to come out and protest and do what we need to do," said Arteaga to the group Wednesday night.
The group chanted together and held colorful signs with anti-ICE messages. They made their feelings known – they don't think immigrations officials should be allowed to target people at the courthouse.
"They should not be getting themselves involved in the judicial process and interfering in this system," said Sebastian Feculak, president of the New South Progressives.
Arteaga and others rejoiced just weeks ago when new Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden abolished the controversial 287(g) program in Mecklenburg County. The program allows local law enforcement to check the immigration status of people when they are charged with a crime. It can lead to deportation.
WBTV spoke with Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger Wednesday night. He said he still utilizes the 287(g) program because it promotes the safety of his community. Cloninger supports the work ICE does.
"ICE doesn't tear families apart. Someone makes a conscious decision to enter the country illegally and they must face the consequences if they get caught,” said the Gaston County sheriff.
In Mecklenburg County, Arteaga is now pushing for elected officials to step up and make the county courthouse off limits for ICE detainments.
“We need people to call out and speak to their representatives right here because this is an outrage,” said Arteaga.