Despite her criticism of intelligence work at times, Myrick was presented this month with the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal for extraordinary contributions in support of the intelligence community. It is the highest award someone who is not officially part of the intelligence community can receive.
Weatherman, Myricks longtime aide, acknowledged the controversies that surrounded Myrick, but he said those troubles came with the territory.
Did she champion causes that were high profile? Yes, he said. Did she butt heads when those things happened? Of course. If you believe in something and youre going to stand for something, you expect criticism to come with it.
But he said what really made Myrick tick was helping people like those affected by Hurricane Floyd.
When a popular teacher from her district was killed in a 2005 car wreck by an illegal immigrant who had prior drunken driving convictions, she introduced legislation to deport any illegal immigrant convicted of drunken driving. The bill passed the House but died in the Senate. She reintroduced the Scott Gardner Act named for the teacher in 2011, and it has made its way to a Senate committee.
And she helped Pendergraph implement the popular but controversial 287g program, which allowed the sheriff to place arrested illegal immigrants into deportation proceedings.
She was the one who actually greased the skids to get the 287g lined up for me in a very quick manner, Pendergraph said. Usually those things take a long time to get through all the red tape. She cut through the red tape. Because she knew how big an issue that was here in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County.
Critics like Maudia Melendez, head of the Charlotte advocacy group Jesus Ministry, said the program was used primarily to nab minor offenders. Data for Mecklenburg Countys deportation effort shows, for example, that in 2010 only 12 percent of the deportation proceedings were for felons.
But Melendez said despite Myricks anti-immigrant talk and policies she championed nationally, the congresswoman helped immigrants locally, another sign of Myricks commitment to constituent service.
In one example, Myrick stepped in during the summer of 2010 and helped a Brazilian pastor get his green card, which had been stalled in bureaucratic paperwork, Melendez said. And Myrick helped a former undocumented student who had left the country to study abroad return to Charlotte on a student visa for a visit, Melendez said.
It was a tough relationship, Melendez said. Even though she was against immigration, we had some tough cases that she helped us with immigration cases. And that is why I have mixed feelings right now.