Mecklenburg Co. Sheriff's Office, protesters clash over immigrant deportation program

- Lies. That’s what the Mecklenburg County Sheriff says some elected officials are spreading about deporting local immigrants.

"For those who are spreading false information, leading to anger and fear, I urge you to stop it," said Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael.

Strong words coming on the heels of criticism from some Mecklenburg County Commissioners and Charlotte City Council members calling on the Sheriff to get rid of 287(g). It’s a program used to identify undocumented immigrants who are arrested and detain them for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"These doors are open to come down and learn about the program that what I ask everyone to do before you make a statement or a comment. See what the program is," said Sheriff Carmichael.

Outside the Sheriff's office protesters gathered. They represented a diverse group from Charlotte Uprising, to Charlotte Pride and the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

"For me to listen to law enforcement act like the only people caught up in this program are serious criminals, makes me angry because it's a lie. The people who are caught up in this program are children, mothers, fathers, community members," said Becca O'Neill, an attorney at the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

She shared the story of one of her own clients.

"In December my office had a client who was 19 years old. He was arrested because he was suspected of a hit and run. He was cleared of all charges. Mistaken identity. He was still apprehended by ICE," said O’Neill.

Inside the Sheriff's office, it was a different story. Mug shots of undocumented immigrants stamped with the serious crimes they're charged with.

"Wouldn't you want us to know everyone's criminal background? It is the only source I have for foreign-born individuals. Otherwise, we would have to revert back to the pre-2006 method and call ice to check the status," said Sheriff Carmichael.|

One thing is for sure: the contentious debate over 287(g) is far from over.

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