The sheriff who's defying ICE

By now, federal authorities and the sheriff were trading volleys in the press. Sean Gallagher, the regional head of ICE, blamed the second assault on McFadden. “I spoke directly to this point late last year and warned that the noncooperation policy would result in preventable crimes of violence taking place in Mecklenburg County,” he said. “Sadly, but predictably, this has now taken place.” The U.S. attorney said McFadden was making the county less safe and warned that someone would die. Local Republican politicians called on McFadden to resign. His predecessor, an erstwhile family friend, told me McFadden has made the community less safe.

For McFadden, the matter was simple: He believes detainers violate the Constitution, since they ask sheriffs to hold people, without probable cause, who have met a judge’s conditions for release. Because Pineda-Ancheta had crossed the border illegally after being deported, he had committed a felony, but McFadden said the sheriff’s office was never notified of the felony violation.

“All I’m asking ICE to do is this: Bring me a criminal warrant and I’ll hold anybody for you,” McFadden told me on May 29. “I have 400-plus federal inmates in my detention center right now. You bring me that paper, I got a place to put them. Other than that, you’re gonna fight with me the whole time.”