The Mecklenburg County, N.C. (Charlotte), sheriff’s policy of enforcing immigration laws, begun in April is on the of the most aggressive in the nation, says the Washington Post. It has placed than 100 people a month into deportation proceedings; some had been charged with violent crimes, others with traffic infractions. Officials in scores of communities are considering adopting their own version. The U.S. House has debated a measure “reaffirming” the authority of local law enforcement agencies to arrest people on suspicion of violating immigration laws.
Some Latino leaders say the program in Charlotte is contributing to a discriminatory climate in which Hispanic drivers feel as if they are being “hunted” by police. Some law enforcement agencies elsewhere have shied away from enforcing immigration laws, saying that doing so would rupture any trust they have developed in Latino neighborhoods. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph says there should be little sympathy for illegal immigrants caught by his program: They have already broken the law once by being here illegally, and then been arrested on suspicion of another crime. “It’s tense, very tense,” said Angeles Ortega-Moore of the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte. “It used to be everybody here loved the Latinos. They would say, ‘We like you more than the blacks.’ Now we’re like the Big Bad Wolf.”