Commissioners hear plea from immigrant community

SEEKING AID: Bruno Hinojosa Ruiz with CIMA asks commissioners to stand up for the immigrant community following the detention of 15 people by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Western North Carolina last week. Photo by David Floyd

Bruno Hinojosa Ruiz, the co-director of Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción, told county commissioners at their April 17 meeting that he has grown a couple of grey hairs over the past several days.

The reason? Starting on April 14, CIMA and other local advocacy groups received word that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were detaining people in the Asheville area.

“My community has not slept since Saturday morning,” he said.

Many members of the local immigrant community, Ruiz says, have been too scared to go to work or send their kids to school. “I believe it is your responsibility as county commissioners to hold some accountability to this agency,” he said.

Missy Harris, the co-pastor of Circle of Mercy in Asheville, read a statement to the county commission on behalf of Faith for Justice, a group of faith leaders in Buncombe County. The actions taken by the agency, she said, have been devastating.

“We are calling on the city of Asheville and Buncombe County to publicly condemn the ICE presence and their use of manipulative tactics against residents in our county,” she said. “Portraying immigrants and refugees as criminals and threats rather than seeing them as beloved children of God is immoral and un-American.”

Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara posted a statement on Facebook on April 18 expressing support for the local immigrant community and applauding the efforts of local organizations.

“We live in a community of many heroes and many of these stories may never see the light of day,” Beach-Ferrara wrote. “An incredible alliance of Latino, civil rights and faith-based organizers are working around the clock to document what is happening and support impacted families. From Buncombe County Schools to Pisgah Legal Services to Minnie Jones Health Clinic, educators and direct service providers are working to ensure people can access schools and services safely.”

ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox told Xpress that the agency’s presence in North Carolina is not a new development.

Cox said the agency doesn’t typically track arrest data below the field-office level but confirmed that the agency made 40 arrests in North Carolina last week. Fifteen were in Western North Carolina.

North Carolina falls under the agency’s Atlanta field office, Cox said, which also includes Georgia and South Carolina. In fiscal year 2017, Cox said, the field office made 13,551 administrative immigration arrests. Cox said 67 percent of those arrested had been convicted of a criminal offense beyond their immigration status.

“ICE continues to focus its limited resources first and foremost on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety, and any suggestions as to ICE engaging in random or indiscriminate enforcement are categorically false,” Cox said. “ICE does not conduct any type of indiscriminate raids or sweeps that target aliens indiscriminately.”

A statement from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office on April 16 said the office has not participated in any recent ICE operations in the county. The sheriff’s office does not participate in the 287(g) program, which delegates immigration authority to local law enforcement agencies.

Coming tomorrow: Commissioners move forward on expanding county EMS contracts to include for-profit service providers


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About David Floyd
David Floyd was a reporter for the Mountain Xpress. He previously worked as a general-assignment reporter for the Johnson City Press.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

10 thoughts on “Commissioners hear plea from immigrant community

  1. Lulz

    LOL if they were heroes, they’d change their home countries for the better. Instead they run to a stable WHITE nation where they can work and be left in peace. The very definition of cowards.

    • luther blissett

      “if they were heroes, they’d change their home countries for the better. ”

      Substitute “countries” for “cities” and look in the mirror.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    If one is ILLEGAL here then they are already a criminal. Round em up, send em home. We have plenty of immigrants already, thanks.

    Remember, there was NO immigration from 1924 until 1965 … let’s do that again!

    • luther blissett

      “Remember, there was NO immigration from 1924 until 1965 … let’s do that again!”

      Yeah, no. The current White House occupant’s mother immigrated from Scotland in 1930, following her sisters. I believe conservatives call that “chain migration.”

      One of the problems with the immigration debate is the amount of ignorance on display, both towards the laws as they now stand and how they ended up that way.

  3. kmm

    Why aren’t the county commissioners hearing from those citizens of Buncombe County in support of the ICE presence?

  4. Stan Hawkins

    With respect, your editorial does not specify whether or not those detained were detained for some reason of law of the United States of America. Should you have that information, that would be helpful to my, and possibly others understanding of your issue and requests of Buncombe County.

    ICE, by the way, is an acronym for: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is a department of the federal government and funded by tax revenues as voted on by the United States Congress for the Department of Homeland Security.

    With additional respect, Buncombe County Government should be careful in aligning itself with anyone aspiring to thwart the law of the United States of America. Recent legal complications and oversight deficiencies within Buncombe Government should be plenty of reasons for a “heads-up” on that point.

    There naturally should be concern for the equal treatment of all US citizens under the law. There also should be an equal concern that all non-citizens follow the rules of being present in the U.S. as a non-citizen, as enacted by U.S. Congress, and that enforcement of the law be as it is written. Your redress, seems to me, should be directed at the U.S. Congress.

    If people are uncomfortable in the United States because they are not following the law, the issue then becomes one of what is true and what is not true for each person to address. Granted, this is hard. The truth in the long run is one of the keys to freedom. By following the rule of law, and by following the process to change laws by a majority, only then will we have a stable society.

  5. Dave Gorak

    This story is so typical of the the kind of immigration news coverage that for several decades has dumbed down an American public. As a retired Chicago journalist with 30 years at the keyboard, I can easily say it is a perfect example of the rules of responsible news reporting being abandoned in order to advance a particular agenda.

    Are Americans supposed to feel guilty because illegal aliens are “losing sleep” after learning that the federal government is enforcing those laws that were created to protect citizens and their jobs? When you knowingly violate the law, aren’t you supposed to be looking over shoulder and breaking into a sweat whenever you see someone charged with enforcing it? The lack of balance here is bad enough, but what I find particularly galling is allowing to go unchallenged Pastor Missy Harris’ comment that enforcing our laws is “immoral and un-American” to go unchallenged.

  6. Mark Labinov

    I am not only surprised but appalled by the comments supporting the ICE actions. I enclose the article describing the way the detainees are treated and that resembles by far the concentration camp. I also would like to state unequivocally that people, whatever way they are in the country cannot be targeted en masse, their voice must be heard and they have as much right to be safe on the streets as every other person. The ICE activity is immoral and very dangerous. It is a manhunt, also a manhunt which is targeting a very specific group. I bet if they round up the illegal followers of Billy Graham, the reaction would be much different. I also state that manhunt is always illegal, always degrading and always harmful to all. Those who somehow support it are up to a very rude awakening.

  7. Mark Labinov

    One more thing for those who use the references to ‘laws’. I would imply that slavery was also lawful and the laws in the Northern States before the Civil War which required to return the runaway slaves to the South were enforced. In the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ the senator’s wife says about that ‘Law’ that she would definitely disregard it. We are in the 21st Century now. We know that there are laws and there are circumstances. To those who want absolutes I would recommend to dig out the corpse of General John Shalikashvili, once the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs .. His father was a member of the SS ( Georgian emigrant) and entered this country illegally. Maybe we should deport all the descendants, dead or alive? And also if those folks want the laws to work maybe they should ask how did Melania Trump get an ‘ Einstein visa’ as some kind of an outstanding person. Try it, send ICE after her.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.