Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils has been one of the organizers among local elected officials calling for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to be abolished.
Seils was one of the North Carolina elected officials as of Wednesday night – the majority of whom were from Chatham, Durham or Orange County – who signed onto a letter urging federal lawmakers to “Abolish ICE.”
Seils said that he signed onto the letter not only because of the increased enforcement that has led to families being separated at the southern United States boarder but also due to the raids that were conducted by ICE in the Triangle earlier this year.
“The raids that happened in April as well as the other immigration enforcement activities that have been going on throughout North Carolina scare people,” Seils said.
He went on to criticize recent actions by federal immigration agents.
“As we’ve seen around the country,” Seils said, “ICE’s tactics have become much more aggressive, and they have been dishonest about their tactics.”
Seils accused ICE of indiscriminately rounding up immigrants without any targeted enforcement.
The Carrboro Alderman added that the goal of signing onto this “Abolish ICE” letter was to amplify the voice of advocates across the country and to push for Congress to take action and close the agency.
“I also think it’s important for members of our local communities to know that we at the local level are committed to our communities being safe places for them to live,” Seils said, “to live their lives, to raise their children, to be members of the community that they’re a part of.”
Seils reiterated that local police would continue working with all residents across the community. No law enforcement agencies in Orange County work in a cooperative relationship with ICE.
“It’s important for members of our community to understand that our local law enforcement is not a part of that and that we want no part of it,” Seils said. “And, as far as I’m concerned, immigrants are and always have been welcome here.”
Law enforcement officials have said that the raids earlier this year were a setback after years were spent in an effort to build relationships with immigrant communities across the area.
Seils said it was important to continue working with advocacy organizations like El Centro Hispano in an effort to continue that relationship building and educating residents of their rights.
“Everyone in our community has the same constitutional rights – the same protections under the law,” Seils said. “And we want everyone in the community, including our immigrant neighbors, to understand that.”
Additional signatures are being added to the “Abolish ICE” letter daily.
Congressman David Price’s office did not respond to a request asking if he would support legislation abolishing ICE. Price has been active in meeting with members of the local immigrant community after the raids earlier this year and called for more transparency from ICE.