In recent months, there have been a lot of questions in the local immigrant community and on social media as to exactly what position the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department holds on immigration issues.  On Tuesday, May 21, the department issued a public statement clarifying that policy as it pertains to arresting and detaining illegal immigrants as well as working with federal authorities.

According to the statement, sent out by Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Max Benbassat, Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers has met recently with several groups in the community, as well as with his department’s attorneys, to discuss immigration related issues in order to understand the concerns of immigrants and the department’s legal obligations.

One request from some immigrants in the community will not be granted: The department won’t curtail its use of driver’s license checkpoints.

“Some members representing the immigrant community have asked the Sheriff to tailor his license checkpoints around the time children are released from school,” the statement reads.  “The concern expressed is immigrant parents driving without a license fear being subject to arrest while attempting to pick up their child(ren) from school resulting in ICE notification.”

The statement goes on to say that Rogers understands the deportation concerns of some members of the immigrant community and that he also “sympathizes with the challenges faced in gaining citizenship.”

However, it added, Rogers and his officers have a job to do – keeping the citizen’s of Guilford County safe – and honoring that duty is incompatible with telling officers “to stop doing their jobs at certain times of the day because law breakers (e.g. driving without a license) may be on the road.”

“The Sheriff expressed he will not waiver on this matter, which to some has been interpreted as defensive and uninviting,” the statement adds.

According to the May 21 notice, Rogers’ discussions with the department’s attorneys on the duties of the office and federal law have given rise to the following key policy decisions:

  • The Sheriff’s Department has ended its involvement in the “287(g) program” – a program that deputizes local law-enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. Rogers states he will not renew the program.
  • The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department will not enforce the 48-hour-hold provision in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers after an inmate’s criminal charges have been resolved. “The only exception,” the statement notes, “will be when ICE presents an actual warrant or order issued by a Federal judicial official (i.e., a Federal Judge or Federal Magistrate).”
  • The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department opposes House Bill 370 that’s now under consideration in the NC General Assembly.The bill requires that local law enforcement agencies cooperate with ICE.
  • The department is going to start accepting Faith Action ID cards for the purpose of identification.According to the statement, the department is currently in the process of finalizing an agreement with Faith Action.

The statement added that the sheriff “will not participate in any acts that could be perceived as racial profiling and he vows to protect and serve all communities equitably.”