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Hundreds from Charlotte’s Latino community attend meeting with Mecklenburg County Sheriff

Updated: Feb. 18, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Hundreds of people packed the Iglesia Lirio De Los Valles sanctuary Monday night for a special meeting. Charlotte residents and community leaders from the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations welcomed Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden to speak to the crowd.

The sheriff seemed to want to build more of a relationship with Charlotte’s Latino residents. McFadden spoke to the crowd of people through a translator. He talked briefly about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the 287(g) program and the process of building a bond with the Latino community.

“Let’s show the nation and let’s show Charlotte what an example of an inclusive community really is,” McFadden said to the crowd Monday.

Several times his words were greeted with thunderous claps before the translator could even begin to reiterate what he had said.

“I have to protect you whether you are documented or undocumented,” said McFadden as the crowd burst into cheers, drowning out the translator.

The sheriff told the Latino community members that he wanted them to be able to call the sheriff’s office if they witnessed a crime.

McFadden has recently taken heat from ICE regarding his decision to get rid of the 287(g) program that helped immigration officials detain undocumented immigrants that had been arrested. ICE officials have said more public raids have happened because ICE agents are no longer detaining people in the jail.

“I think that the uptick that you’ve seen is again a direct result of some of the dangerous policies that some of our county sheriffs have put in place,” said ICE Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher at a February 8 press conference.

Monday night McFadden explained to the Latino community the changes he has made at the county jail.

“ICE has been informed that they can’t operate inside the Mecklenburg County Jail unless they have a criminal warrant, not a detainer,” McFadden said to the crowd.

By the end of the sheriff’s speech, the crowd had applauded him several times. At one point they began loudly chanting his name in a show of support.

“I’ve been here 20 years in Charlotte and I’ve never seen something like that in Charlotte - the sheriff making a meeting with this type of crowd,” said Mario Guzman, an assistant pastor at the church.

Guzman is hoping that McFadden can bring families in his community together.

“What he’s thinking to do for Charlotte is something amazing,” said Guzman. “I like the way he speak honestly from his bottom of the heart and we’re expecting something very good in the next few years.”

McFadden told the crowd he wants to have monthly meetings so he can stay in tune with what’s going on in the Latino neighborhoods. He encouraged community members to embrace his deputies when they see them in public. He said he is also working closely with the Latin American Coalition and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce. He said they have set up job fairs with both organizations.

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