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NC lawmakers debate requirement for sheriffs on immigration warrants
Bill would require cooperation on ICE detainers
Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019 6:44 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

A bill before an N.C. Senate committee would require sheriffs to present undocumented suspects with federal retainers to magistrates for immigration warrants.

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N.C. lawmakers are considering a bill that would require sheriffs to let a magistrate decide whether undocumented criminal suspects should be held for possible deportation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking up a compromise proposal introduced by Republican Sens. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico), and Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) to resolve what GOP leaders call a “sanctuary cities problem.”

The legislation, which has the backing of the N.C. Sheriff’s Association, would require suspects with an outstanding detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to appear before a magistrate judge, who have authority to issue warrants. The bill, backers say, would ease concerns of urban sheriffs about enforcing detainer requests.

“ICE issues detainer requests for a reason: those present in this country unlawfully who have committed serious crimes should be deported,” Edwards, Sanderson and Perry said in a joint statement. “This legislation bridges the divide to reach a resolution on the sanctuary cities issue. We’re hard-pressed to find anybody who believes serious criminals should be allowed to stay in the United States.”

Urban sheriffs, including Mecklenburg’s Garry McFadden, argue opting out of the 287(g) program encourages cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement, and by extension, improves public safety.

“The implications of the revised HB370 go far beyond immigration,” McFadden said in a statement Wednesday. “It is a move by the General Assembly to chip away at the Sheriff’s authority over how we operate our jails and instruct our deputies. At this moment, it is critical for public safety that law enforcement has the trust of all residents. In the revised HB370, community members living in mixed status families who are victims of crime, have witnessed crimes or otherwise would wish to access law enforcement services are likely to be less willing to interact with our departments.”

Bill supporters contend law enforcement have a responsibility to cooperate with federal authorities to keep undocumented immigrant suspects from committing more crime.

Sheriffs in the state’s most urban counties have recently declined to cooperate voluntarily with detainer requests from, arguing they are not warrants, which absolve them of enforcing federal law.

Under the proposed law, the process for detainer requests would be as follows:

• An arrestee would be asked to prove citizenship;

• Police would contact ICE to check whether there is an outstanding detainer request on suspects who cannot prove citizenship;

• If there is an outstanding ICE detainer request, the officer would take the suspect to a magistrate judge within 24 hours;

• The magistrate judge would authenticate the suspect’s identity and issue a warrant;

• Local law enforcement will permit ICE to interview the detainee if a request is made.

The sheriffs’ association supports the legislation, which “provides an appropriate and careful balance under the Constitution for the rights of the accused and for the public safety of our communities,” officials said in a statement. McFadden contends the bill strips sheriffs of the independence needed to carry out their duties.

“To be clear, I recognize that other sheriffs and communities may have differing views and policies about immigration,” he said. “However, we all can agree that HB370 usurps the power of every sheriff and local community to set their own policies.”


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