Billboards are popping up along interstates in Charlotte with photos of local criminal suspects and offenders wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The federal agency announced the billboard campaign in a news release Friday night, in which ICE blames local ”sanctuary policies” for the men’s release.
“Too often sanctuary policies limiting cooperation with ICE result in significant public safety concerns because they release dangerous individuals back into the community we are attempting to protect,” ICE official Tony Pham said in the release.
ICE called the local suspects and offenders “at-large” and “dangerous.”
The billboards are on Interstate 85 just north of Billy Graham Parkway, on I-77 near Arrowood Road, on I-485 near Dixie River Road and Nations Ford Road, and on I-277 near Hamilton Street.
ICE dispute with Sheriff McFadden
The campaign appears to involve a more than two-year-long feud between ICE and Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, although ICE did not name the sheriff in its billboard campaign.
Last year, a senior ICE official blasted what he called McFadden’s “dangerous and reckless” policy of allowing undocumented immigrants charged with crimes to walk out of jail with no call to ICE, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
McFadden fired back at the time, saying he follows state law on the release of inmates. He criticized ICE for not inviting him to sit down and discuss the situation and said he was being used as a “political pawn” for federal officials’ failure to solve the nation’s immigration problem.
McFadden could not immediately be reached for comment.
Trump commented on local dispute
President Donald Trump weighed in on the dispute last year. He retweeted a tweet by the conservative foundation Judicial Watch that said: “Weeks after JW reported that the sheriff of North Carolina’s biggest county released numerous violent illegal immigrant criminals from custody, new federal stats reveal that the problem is statewide.”
“That, and many other reasons, is why Republicans will win North Carolina!” Trump tweeted.
Men featured on the billboards include:
▪ 26-year-old Paul Chander Evans, arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police on charges including assault on a female and felony breaking and entering.
▪ 29-year-old Andres Bautista-Alcantara, arrested on charges of second-degree forcible rape and violating a domestic violence protective order.
▪ 25-year-old Omar Palomo-Garcia, arrested and charged by CMPD officers with assault on a female and felony cocaine possession.