Illegal immigrants facing criminal charges are crowding a North Carolina jail that serves as the model for Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall’s plan to hold such immigrants here for deportation hearings, reports The Tennessean in Nashville. The Charlotte, N.C., jail is full because federal authorities can’t pick up inmates facing deportation hearings quickly enough. The jail is overflowing with inmates as a result of a new program that puts deportation holds on people who are identified as illegal immigrants when they pass through the county lockup.
Nashville has applied for computer hardware, training, and other support that would help local jailers do the same. Mecklenburg County Sheriff, N.C., Sheriff Jim Pendergraph said the federal government has been overwhelmed by the demand for pickups and transfers of illegal immigrants to federal facilities. After telling a congressional hearing that the U.S. division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is overwhelmed by the numbers for removal in Mecklenberg County alone, he said, “I’d recommend (this program) to every sheriff in the U.S.” because “it is getting people out of our community who are committing crimes who had no business being here anyway.” Since May, federal officials have removed 550 people in Charlotte for deportation proceedings, many of whom would not otherwise have been identified. Under the program, federal immigration computers and a full-time immigration officer are placed at local jails, allowing deputies to check the immigration status of every prisoner.