Faith leaders and immigrant rights advocates joined Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller Tuesday to announce the department will not hold people in jail solely on the basis of immigration status.
Sheriff Miller told those at a press conference that his department is formally rejecting detainers, or immigration holds. They’re essentially requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold people in custody suspected of being in the country illegally. That gives ICE agents additional time to decide whether to take the person into federal custody for possible deportation.
Coco Eva Solange, co-director of Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Accion says the announcement provides some relief to the local immigrant population.
“It’s impactful for the community’s trust, in terms their relationship with the police and community members. It also has an emotional impact to know this is where our sheriff stands.That it’s not only about this directive but it’s also the position he’s taken over and over again about being a ‘community of we.’”
The sheriff’s announcement adds to the department’s refusal to participate in a 287-G agreement, which would involve officers assisting in ICE arrests. Neighboring Henderson County currently has a 287-G agreement.
Repeating a phrase he often voiced on the campaign trail, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller says he doesn’t see immigration enforcement as an essential part of his department’s duties.
“I talked about a culture change at the sheriff’s office. And I talked about the change of mindset from being warriors to guardians,” Miller said.
The announcement comes on the heels of a massive ICE raid earlier this month that resulted in the arrests of an estimated 200 people.
The detainers are written requests from federal immigration officials to a local jail or law enforcement agency to hold an individual for additional time after their release date. That gives ICE agents additional time to decide whether to take the person into federal custody for possible deportation.