CLT Council held secret immigration committee meeting, conflicts with open meeting law

After criticism, Charlotte?s mayor issues letter to immigrants on edge over ICE raids
After criticism, Charlotte?s mayor issues letter to immigrants on edge over ICE raids
Updated: Mar. 8, 2019 at 6:24 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte City Council members and staff held an unadvertised and publicly unattended meeting for their new ad hoc Immigration Committee. Five council members and Mayor Vi Lyles were in attendance. North Carolina Open Meeting Laws require the council advertise a meeting to the public any time more than two members of a committee are meeting or more than five members of the council.

Committee Chair Larken Egleston told WBTV that not notifying the public about the meeting “Certainly wasn’t intentional” and that “Given a redo staff should have done a public notice.”

The meeting took place Monday with members of the committee and city staff. According to summary notes from the meeting Mayor Vi Lyles was in attendance but left early.

Council members Braxton Winston and Dimple Ajmera both voiced concerns that the meeting wasn’t advertised an no members of the public were there.

On Twitter Ajmera wrote “I had expressed concerns over transparency and trust to the committee chair. This is not how we build trust with our residents!”

WBTV reached out to several advocacy groups focusing on the Latino community including Comunidad Colectiva and the Charlotte chapter of Action NC and neither of them provided a statement on the unadvertised meeting.

Through a public records request WBTV acquired the presentation given to council members.

The city also provided this summary of notes taken at the meeting.

Egleston said the committee did not vote on or decide any policy matters but the notes indicate a “list of possible immediate actions that could be taken by Council to alleviate hardships faced by the immigrant community” was shared with committee members.

“It really wasn’t anything, nothing controversial,” Egleston said.

Committee member James Mitchell said that meeting was a planning session and was not meant to be hidden from the public.

“It was just a planning session. We’re going to be fully transparent this is something that’s very positive for our community. very important,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also said that he hasn’t received any complaints about the meeting not being advertised.

“The only calls we’ve gotten so far say glad you all are meeting can’t wait to see the results and want to be involved,” Mitchell said.

The new ad hoc committee was formed after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested about 200 undocumented immigrants across North Carolina. ICE officials criticized the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office for not following 287g guidelines which would require local jails to report undocumented immigrants in their custody to federal authorities.

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners made a swift statement supporting Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden in response to the ICE criticism. Charlotte City Council and Mayor Vi Lyles did not immediately make a condemnation of ICE’s actions drawing a strong reaction from some members of the lation community at a recent council meeting.

Since then Lyles wrote a memo authorizing the formation of the ad-hoc committee.

The committee will be holding several future community meetings which can be seen below.

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