WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Newly-elected Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough says at the center of the debate over detainers for immigration violations is a violation of a different kind — a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“Basically, I’m detaining somebody’s Fourth Amendment right without due process,” Kimbrough said.
In May 2016, a contract was signed between the U.S. Department of Justice United States Marshals Service and the previous administration of former Sheriff Bill Schatzman. In that agreement, there is a section authorizing other agencies to use the agreement. In that section, both the Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — or ICE— are checked off.
“We will not be an extension of immigrant investigations,” Kimbrough said, during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Kimbrough detailed that in the past, the sheriff’s office would honor I-203s, which in his words, are a request by ICE for the sheriff’s office to detain someone.
“It’s not a legal document,” he detailed.
Kimbrough announced Wednesday that when a new agreement is signed with the U.S. Marshals, I-203 forms will not be honored.
Otherwise, Kimbrough says the sheriff’s office could potentially face civil liabilities.
If it’s a document signed by a magistrate or a judge, Kimbrough says his office will honor it. Kimbrough added that when someone is arrested, they are required by law to enter that person’s information into the system, which would in turn notify ICE if someone they are pursuing is or was in custody.
“We’re not saying we’re not going to work with ICE because ICE handles other criminal activity,” he said.
Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill wants to stress that if someone is here illegally committing crime, the sheriff’s office will still cooperate with ICE and other agencies to make those arrests.
“They’re going to be prosecuted, and then if the decision is made that they’re going to be deported after that then that’s what’s going to happen,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that this change in policy will not result in people being rounded up in masses.
“That’s just not the case,” he said. “The resources don’t allow for that.”
Outside of the press conference, a small group gathered to support Kimbrough’s decision.
“Even if someone does something wrong, there’s a proper channel, that’s why the laws were created,” said Yamile McBride, a Forsyth County resident.
The group emphasized that the issue is one of constitutional and human rights.
“Nobody should be forced to stay there longer when everybody else is able to get out just because they have papers,” said supporter Alec Jessar.
Kimbrough says he started looking into the issue in November, shortly after he was elected to office.