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Western NC Reacts To ICE’S ‘New Normal’

a photo of Smiley's Farmer's Market empty.
Cass Herrington

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested more than 200 people around North Carolina in early February. And according to new reporting, this action had a noticeable impact on local commerce in western North Carolina. 

A flea market in Fletcher named Smiley’s is a Sunday tradition for many in Henderson County, and after the raids, Latinx shoppers and venders were noticeably missing. Blue Ridge Public Radio reporter and Morning Edition host Cass Herrington visited the flea market, which she describes as an unlikely mix of western North Carolina with Central America at which people sell tools and hardware alongside stands of tamales and quinceañera dresses.

Herrington joins host Frank Stasio to share her reporting. She also talks about her interview with Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin about the county’s relationship with ICE. Henderson County is among a handful of counties in the state that still participates in 287(g), an agreement that allows local law enforcement officials to partner with immigration agents. Griffin shared his take on the status of the agreement and the factors he is weighing as he considers whether to renew the partnership.

Stasio also talks to Felicia Arriaga about the Latinx population in western North Carolina. Arriaga is an assistant professor of sociology at Appalachian State University who studies the relationship between ICE and various agencies in the state. She shares her analysis of how the immigrant population in western North Carolina is responding to the “new normal” of increased ICE visibility.

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