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NC Senate passes custody immigration requirement for sheriffs
Bill requires local law enforcement to work with ICE
Published Tuesday, June 25, 2019 7:30 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

The North Carolina Senate passed a bill Monday that requires sheriffs to cooperate with federal officials in determining immigration status of undocumented detainees.

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Local cooperation with federal immigration authorities on undocumented criminal suspects is a step closer to becoming law in North Carolina.

The state Senate on Monday passed HB 370, which requires sheriffs with undocumented residents in their custody to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if federal officials have detainer requests on them. Sheriffs in some of North Carolina’s largest counties, including Mecklenburg’s Garry McFadden, have resisted cooperating with the federal 287(g) program, in which local law enforcement share immigration status with immigration officials. Federal rules make local cooperation with the detainer program is optional, but the state bill would make it a requirement.

Gov. Roy Cooper has indicated his opposition to the bill, which heads to the House for debate.

“We should all be able to agree that serious criminals who are in this country illegally should not be allowed to stay in the United States,” said Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Henderson County Republican and supporter of the legislation. “This bill simply requires local law enforcement to work together with federal immigration authorities to ensure that the safety of our citizens is the number one priority.”

HB 370 supporters maintain local cooperation will help prevent undocumented criminals in local custody from being released to commit other crimes, such in Charlotte last month when a domestic violence suspect initiated a standoff with police.

House Bill 370, which is supported by the N.C Sheriff’s association, requires arrestees with an outstanding ICE detainer to appear before a magistrate judge, who could then issue a warrant. This alleviates the concerns of sheriffs about enforcing federal detainer requests because local law enforcement must follow a magistrate judge’s determination.

As law, HB 370 establishes a process for detainer requests:

• Arrestees would be asked to prove citizenship;

• If citizenship can’t be proved, police would contact ICE to check whether there is an outstanding detainer request;

• In the event of an outstanding detainer request, police would take the arrestee to a magistrate judge within 24 hours;

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

• Local authorities would be required hold suspects up to 48 hours in order for ICE to conduct an interview.

There is opposition to HB 370.

A coalition of advocate groups, including the state NAACP and NC Poor People Campaign, slammed what they call “Show me your papers” legislation as GOP overreach and harassment of immigrants.

“It is time for leadership to step in to stem the tide of fear, cynical antagonism, and blatant racism epitomized by this egregious bill,” said the Bishop William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach. “It is our moral and constitutional duty to end this evil racist policy violence, stop the race to the bottom, the war on the immigrant community and the war on the poor. In North Carolina, we must move forward together, not one step back.”

In a joint statement, National Educators Association President Lily Eskelsen García and North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell said HB 370 will have a negative impact on immigrant students and families.

“North Carolina lawmakers are playing politics with the lives of children by proposing an ill-designed, inhumane measure that would in essence make local law enforcement officials an extension of Donald Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” they said. “This is a terrible and reprehensible idea. Trump has weaponized ICE. It has wreaked havoc in our schools and immigrant communities across the country. In North Carolina, students are already living in fear due to recent ICE raids. They are fearful of going to school.”


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