CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials say they arrested an unlawfully present Mexican national on Friday, a week after he was released from criminal custody in Mecklenburg County.
ICE officials say they arrested Jose Barajas-Diaz during a targeted enforcement action on Nov. 1, one week after the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor an ICE detainer, and instead released Barajas-Diaz from local criminal custody.
According to ICE officials, Barajas-Diaz was convicted of felony death by motor vehicle in a car crash where he was arrested for DWI.
Barajas-Diaz was initially arrested Jan. 29, 2019, by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) for driving while impaired and felony death by motor vehicle.
ICE officials say they lodged an immigration detainer against him with Mecklenburg County the following day. Along with the detainer form, ICE officials say they provided the county with an administrative arrest warrant.
Barajas-Diaz was convicted of felony death by motor vehicle in North Carolina Superior Court for Mecklenburg County on Oct. 24, 2019, and given a five-year suspended sentence with credit for time served, according to an ICE press release. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor the ICE detainer and instead released him back into the community.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers were able to locate and arrest him eight days later on Nov. 1, and he is currently in ICE custody while going through removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts.
“This is yet another example of a clear public safety threat being released into North Carolina communities rather than into ICE custody due to local sheriff policies on ICE non-cooperation,” said Acting ICE Director Matt Albence. “Continued decisions to refuse cooperation with ICE serve as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that these counties are a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Mecklenburg County are less safe due to these misguided sanctuary policies.”
The arrest comes amid an ongoing dispute between ICE and Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden, as McFadden has refused to cooperate with ICE since taking office in late December of last year. That non-cooperation includes refusing to honor ICE detainers and not notifying the agency when inmates who may be in the country illegally are being released from custody.
In October, ICE officials released information about nine people currently in the Mecklenburg County jail on felony charges, who they believe may be released soon.