‘There’s lots of times when even someone who’s politically elected like these sheriffs should be able to put aside politics, and do what’s right for the public safety…’
(Dan E. Way, Liberty Headlines) North Carolina Republicans are riled up over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper‘s veto of legislation requiring county sheriffs to hold illegal immigrants wanted by federal authorities for possible deportation.
Cooper issued the veto Wednesday, a day after House Bill 370 was passed by the General Assembly.
The legislation requires confinement facilities to comply with detainers and administrative warrants issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It authorizes the removal of a sheriff for failing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association supports the bill as a “high priority.”
However, Cooper dismissed it as a partisan ploy.
“This legislation is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina,” he said in his veto message.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
GOP legislators were quick to respond.
“Today we found out North Carolina has a sanctuary Governor,” state Rep. Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, said in a news release.
Hall, the primary sponsor of H.B. 370 and the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Matters, said the bill simply requires sheriffs to perform duties almost all of them are already executing.
Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, likewise expressed indignation.
“Despite Governor Cooper’s attempt to distract folks with reckless rhetoric and name calling, the message this veto sends is abundantly clear: He is more concerned about protecting the ‘rights’ of people in this country illegally who are in jail for committing crimes than he is about protecting the safety of our communities and the citizens that live in them,” Edwards said.
“The Governor should have signed this legislation, and it still should pass over his veto,” Bishop said in a news release.
Bishop is running in a special election for North Carolina’s 9th U.S. Congressional District on Sept. 10, and is supported by President Donald Trump, who has taken a strong stand against illegal immigration.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden is one of several urban sheriffs who have discontinued cooperation with federal immigration officials. Bishop has called them “sanctuary sheriffs.”
Charlotte-based WBTV reprinted a statement McFadden issued after the bill’s passage Tuesday:
“HB 370 will negatively impact public safety in Mecklenburg County, where I was elected with a clear mandate to stop honoring voluntary ICE detainers and to end the 287(g) program,” the statement said.
“But beyond Mecklenburg County, HB370 erodes the constitutional authority of all elected Sheriffs in the state of North Carolina, by stripping away the ability of local communities to set their own policies.”
ICE has criticized McFadden for releasing at least 22 illegal immigrants who were charged with crimes and facing possible deportation. U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray said that makes Mecklenburg County more dangerous.
McFadden’s office recently disregarded an ICE detainer and released Luis Pineda–Anchet, a previously deported illegal immigrant who was charged with numerous crimes including assault on a female, communicating threats, felony larceny, simple assault, and injury to personal property.
Pineda–Anchet was arrested two days later on charges including assault by strangulation, first-degree kidnapping, assault on a female, violating a domestic violence protection order, and communicating threats.
Bishop called on McFadden to resign for his “reckless policies.”
Moore hit back at opponents of H.B. 370 during legislative debate on the bill. He said they “appear to think that it is a good policy for some political reason to release dangerous criminals on the street, to let folks out, folks who are accused of rape … and other serious crimes” rather than honor an ICE detainer.
“There’s lots of times when even someone who’s politically elected like these sheriffs should be able to put aside politics, and do what’s right for the public safety,” Moore said. “We’ve seen examples where gang members have come across the border and committed all sorts of crimes.”
ICE detainers apply only to those in custody for a crime, and there is probable cause to believe the person is dangerous, or has committed other crimes, he said.
Left-wing illegal immigration advocates including Susanna Birdsong, senior policy counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, stood behind the governor’s veto, reported Raleigh-based WRAL-TV.
“By vetoing this brazen attack on North Carolina’s sheriffs and voters who have made it clear they do not want ICE terrorizing their communities, Governor Cooper can send an important message that he supports both local law enforcement and the rights of all communities,” Birdsong said in a statement.
“This dangerous bill strips local law enforcement of their ability to make decisions in the best interest of public safety, forcing every county in North Carolina to divert resources to do the bidding of President Trump’s deportation force whether they want to or not,” she added.
James Johnson, founder and president of North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (NC FIRE), said the bill is needed. His organization lobbied lawmakers to pass H.B. 370, and has worked to get other immigration enforcement legislation passed.
“I, for the life of me, can’t understand why anybody would be against the bill,” Johnson said.
In response to criticism, lawmakers even amended the bill to include a provision that a suspected illegal alien must appear before a judge who would decide whether to issue a legal detainer.
Only a handful of urban sheriffs have refused to comply with federal officials, Johnson said. He called their argument that cooperating with federal immigration authorities will make immigrant communities fearful of working with local law enforcement to report or solve crimes a straw man.
“It’s not a green light to go raid these immigrant communities and round up illegal aliens,” Johnson said.
While opponents focus on political points, “We specifically focus on the issue of child rape in North Carolina,” Johnson said.
NC FIRE’s database shows 144 illegal aliens have been arrested in cases involving 603 child rapes and sexual assaults in the first seven months of July.
“If we could stop one child rape why wouldn’t we?” Johnson said. “Where are all these child advocates?”