The South has always been integral to resistance and uprising. Too often seen as a staging ground for oppression by both local and federal law enforcement – directly impacted people and their collaborators in the South have had to be creative in their strategies.
In 2018 Stefania Arteaga with Comunidad Colectiva (CMN co-founder) was a central strategist to end collaboration between the Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), NC, jail and ICE. For over a decade, Mecklenburg County Jail served as a defacto ICE office and processing space for ICE in the region.
Through Comunidad Colectiva, and building on years of work by directly impacted organizers, the program allowing ICE to operate in the jail ended. When it became clear the program was ending, ICE made several public threats through its regional PR person that they were going to increase enforcement in Charlotte, and increase so-called “collateral arrests.” Stefania and Becca O’Neill, an attorney who worked to end ICE activity at the Mecklenburg County jail and implement a new policy prohibiting ICE from accessing the jail, decided to create Carolina Migrant Network (“CMN”). Stefania and Becca began working together in 2017, and had already dreamed of a future where ICE was not allowed to operate with impunity in Charlotte.
CMN was born of the success of ending ICE collaboration with Charlotte-Mecklenburg law enforcement, and the ensuing struggle resulting from ICE retaliation. CMN began by creating the first pro bono immigration bond network in the Carolinas, and by expanding to represent people detained by ICE. The onset on the pandemic has changed some of the work CMN anticipated doing, but our network remains strong – and we continue to be the only nonprofit organization providing free representation for people detained by ICE in the Carolinas.