The Forsyth County Sheriff says he will stop accepting detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement who are being held on immigration violations, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. follows similar decisions by the sheriffs in Wake and Durham counties last month. He made the announcement Wednesday after a rally by supporters of a man being held by ICE in the jail, according to the newspaper.
“We will not be an extension of immigrant investigations,” Kimbrough said, according to Fox 8.
Kimbrough came into office this year, along with new sheriffs in Durham and Wake, bringing a wave of announcements from the top cops in some of North Carolina’s most populous counties. On the other side, the Alamance County sheriff recently asked for approval to bring in more federal money to house ICE detainees, The News & Observer reports.
The announcement comes as ICE agents arrested dozens of people in North Carolina in recent days, The Raleigh News & Observer reports. Undercover ICE officers in Charlotte arrested Latino men in a series of traffic stops this week, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The Forsyth sheriff said the county’s contract to house federal detainees is up for renewal in April, the Triad City Beat reports.
That contract, signed with the U.S. Marshals, includes people awaiting federal trials and others, not just those held on immigration violations, according to City Beat. Kimbrough said the Forsyth County jail will still house federal prisoners, just not people arrested solely on immigration violations, City Beat reports.
“What that means is the sheriff’s office will no longer house immigration violators,” Kimbrough said in the Wednesday news conference, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
“Currently, the sheriff’s office is not an extension, and will never will be an extension, in this administration, of immigration services,” Kimbrough said, according to the Journal. “We are not helping ICE. We have not arrested anyone on immigration violations, nor do we plan on it.”
“Housing a detainee versus someone that’s criminal is two different animals; it’s two different conversations,” Kimbrough said, according to the City Beat. “Housing someone that is here illegally, that goes to work every day, that makes a contribution to society, that is striving to be a part of the fabric of this country and this county versus someone who has criminal activity — that’s two different conversations.”