I had to double check that the dateline on this story was correct, as the description bears little resemblance to the city I live in:
CHARLOTTE—Police here operated for years under what amounts to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward illegal immigrants.
As elsewhere in the United States, law enforcement officers did not check the immigration status of people they came into contact with, and in the vast majority of cases, a run-in with the law carried little threat of deportation.
But that accommodation for the burgeoning illegal population ended abruptly in April, when the Mecklenburg County sheriff's office began to enforce immigration law, placing more than 100 people a month into deportation proceedings. Some of them had been charged with violent crimes, others with traffic infractions.
OK. Police here—the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, that is—still operate under a "don't ask, don't tell" policy with regard to immigration status. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department, a wholly separate and much smaller entity primarily responsible for running the county jail, securing the courthouse, serving papers, but little in the way of day-to-day patrolling, is different.
The sheriff's department was, in effect, deputized by ICE to perform immigration status checks on anyone booked into the county jail. Part of the motivation for doing that was financial. The jail was basically holding federal prisoners for free by not checking their immigration status. Once you get prisoners into the deportation cue, the feds help pick up the tab.
The upshot is that far from having cops out cruising the streets of Charlotte looking for illegals to deport, as the story strongly implies, local officials have stepped up to perform the background checks on jail inmates that ICE, for whatever reason, did not do.
The story also disproves its own implication that a mere traffic violation will get you deported in Mecklenburg. The man cited for an open container and without a driver's license was not immediately deported. Should he skip out on his immigration hearing in Atlanta and avoid further run-ins with the law, he will never be deported.
Emotions and, frankly, some goofy ideas are all over the immigration debate on both sides. Facts too often take a backseat to assumptions and agendas. The Post had a chance to do a story on a policy shift that may or may not be a good idea; a policy that may go too far for some and may not go near far enough for others.
Instead the Post opted to editorialize against a move by Herndon, Virginia to implement Mecklenburg-like changes under cover of a Post news story. That is a poor, but unsurprising choice.