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Gov. Roy Cooper veto of immigration bill a win for NC's urban sheriffs
Mecklenburg's McFadden praises demise of HB 370
Published Thursday, August 22, 2019 12:27 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Wednesday vetoed HB 370, which would require sheriffs to recognize federal requests to detain inmates suspected of being in the country illegally.

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North Carolina sheriffs won't be required to recognize federal requests to hold inmates suspected of being in the country illegally.

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Wednesday a Republican-backed bill that would force sheriffs to keep inmates behind bars at the behest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a flashpoint that pitted urban law enforcement – specifically black sheriffs elected last year – against their rural counterparts.

“This legislation is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina,” Cooper tweeted. “As the former top law enforcement officer of our state, I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status. This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties. Finally, to elevate their partisan political pandering, the legislature has made a sheriff’s violation of this new immigration duty as the only specifically named duty violation that can result in a sheriff’s removal from office.”

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, an outspoken critic of HB 370, which passed the House Tuesday 62-53 along party lines, praised Cooper.
“I applaud Governor Cooper on the veto of HB 370,” McFadden said in a statement.  “The bill is unconstitutional and would steal the authority of all Sheriffs to make those discretionary decisions that all Sheriffs are elected to make on behalf of their constituencies.

“HB370 would negatively impact public safety in Mecklenburg and other counties whose citizens provided a clear mandate to end 287(g) and to stop honoring ICE detainers.  I continue to believe that this misguided and ill-advised bill would threaten the trust that I have spent a career trying to build between law enforcement and the community, including the immigrant community.”   

Mark Michalec, president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9, slammed Cooper and McFadden for opening the door to unleashing potentially dangerous criminals upon communities.

“This bill was designed to keep families safe from illegal immigrants who are committing crimes in our communities,” Michalec said in a statement.  “Sheriff McFadden is allowing these dangerous criminals out of jail and free to commit violent crimes against law-abiding citizens.  The decision to not comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to frustrate our law enforcement professionals who must deal with these repercussions.”

The North Carolina Justice Center, a progressive policy advocacy group, urged Cooper in a letter to veto the bill, which opponents say would erode trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement and turn sheriffs into de facto immigration police.

“By forcing local law enforcement to engage in immigration enforcement activities and, in practice, become an extension of ICE, H.B. 370 would create a heightened environment of fear and distrust toward local law enforcement,” the letter said. “The bill would decrease the likelihood that immigrants and those living in community with immigrants report crimes in our communities for fear of immigration-related consequences.”

McFadden, who is one of eight African American sheriffs elected last year in the state’s most urban counties, said his department will enforce the law, regardless of HB 370’s fate.

“My goal remains to work with all law enforcement agencies, state and federal prosecutors, and the judiciary, to implement plans and programs to keep the community safe,” McFadden said. “If the legislature overrides the Governor’s veto and HB370 becomes the law, I will, of course, direct the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office to abide by it as we do all laws. But for the people of Mecklenburg County I sincerely hope that day never comes.”

Sheriff Garry McFadden urges Cooper veto of NC immigration bill


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