“As law enforcement, our mission is to protect the public and to seek to provide justice to victims of crime. Sheriff Miller’s current policy serves neither [purpose],” said Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, after Miller refused to honor an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request. “It also breeds mistrust among law enforcement agencies and puts in danger the very communities it purports to protect.”
At the Black Mountain Public Library on July 23, Sheriff Quentin Miller spoke to roughly 35 people in the first of five planned listening sessions meant to build relationships with community members around public safety. Topics included compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, school resource officers and transparency in the Sheriff’s Office.
Republican members of the board argued that their Democratic colleagues were out of place in issuing official letters against pending state HB 370, which would require Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller and other sheriffs throughout North Carolina to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests on penalty of removal from office.
The four Democratic board members — Chair Brownie Newman, Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Commissioners Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides — have all signed letters asking state officials to withhold their support from the proposal. In February, Democratic Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller announced that his office would no longer honor ICE detainers.
“The word ‘collaborationist’ has lost its meaning in these eight decades since World War II, but our collective and collaborative silence and passivity is as damning as those who turned in their neighbors in Europe because they had been declared ‘different than us.'”
Asheville is an activist’s town, and 2018 controversies in local government, including the ongoing fallout from the investigation into former County Manager Wanda Greene and the police beating of Asheville resident Johnnie Rush, gave local residents plenty of reasons to seek change.
“Thank you for not letting us forget this ongoing and horrific violation of these most vulnerable persons detained in for-profit concentration camps.”
“In Western North Carolina, an April ICE raid placed 27 people in a detention center in Georgia, five hours away from their families.”
“To hear of people in our community with no criminal records cowering in fear of going to the grocery store is shocking.”
“Reading that illegals have the temerity to insist that county commissioners do something to stop immigration enforcement should enrage anyone who believes in the rule of law.”
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.