‘It’s not about making our communities safe. House Bill 370 is clearly about attacking a select group of sheriffs…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) After campaigning on platforms of refusing to uphold federal immigration law—risking the safety and security of citizens by releasing dangerous criminals for political reasons—North Carolina sheriffs are now throwing a pity party as state legislators remind them who is in charge.
The political turmoil began when Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, whose district includes the Charlotte metropolitan area, twice released a Honduran national following a series of violent domestic disputes—the second one involving a nine-hour standoff with a SWAT team.
After the illegal, Luis Pineda–Ancheta, again made his way back out on the streets, it prompted denunciations from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray, and state representatives—including NC Sen. Dan Bishop, currently the Republican candidate running for the open U.S. House seat in the 9th Congressional District.
Bishop last week publicly condemned the sheriff’s actions and called on his opponent, Dan McCready, to join him in demanding McFadden’s resignation.
“Sheriff McFadden was charged with protecting the safety of our citizens, but instead he put them at risk in favor of his radical liberal agenda,” Bishop said in a statement last week. “He needs to resign, and other sanctuary sheriffs like him must be stopped.”
Meanwhile, in Raleigh, the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee—of which Bishop is a member—scheduled debate over a proposed bill already passed by the House that would force the sheriffs to cooperate with their federal counterparts over immigration.
On Wednesday, McFadden joined the sheriffs from two other left-wing metro areas in the state—Raleigh and Durham—to stage a press conference casting themselves as the victims of the political maneuverings.
“House Bill 370 is not about protecting our communities,” McFadden said at the press conference, according to WRAL. “It’s not about making our communities safe. House Bill 370 is clearly about attacking a select group of sheriffs.”
The bill would force the sheriffs in all 100 counties to cooperate with ICE on its 287(g) program—which essentially deputizes local law officers to perform tasks related to immigration enforcement—as well as the use of detainer agreements to hold criminals in jail on behalf of federal immigration authorities.
It would give a judge or magistrate in the state authority to order an illegal immigrant held for up to 48 hours after the individual would otherwise be eligible to be released on bond.
It would also empower judges to remove any sheriff or law officer who refused or failed to comply with the immigration agreements.
“They’re on a fast track to remove us,” McFadden said, according to WRAL. “… House Bill 370 is now mixing politics with our policies.”
McFadden complained that the legislators were being disrespectful to the sheriffs for their refusal to uphold the law of the land.
“The disrespect that we have received, no matter how you say it, to sit here like we’re not in the room and say things about us is unacceptable, and I don’t think we’ve ever had that when you’re talking about sheriffs,” McFadden said. “Just respect us as sheriffs.”
Although the sheriffs contend that cooperation with ICE damages their relationships in communities where illegal immigration is widespread, making people more mistrusting of local law enforcement, ICE and other supporters of the programs maintain that the lack of local cooperation actually results in an increased federal presence.
“The federal government is going to enforce immigration law, regardless of what any state does,” said Rep. Destin Hall, one of the bill’s sponsors, who noted that it was safer to detain illegal immigrants from within the jail than having to arrest them in the community, according to WRAL.
Although it initially opposed the bill, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association has now thrown its support to it—much to the chagrin of rogue sheriffs like McFadden—provided the section about removing sheriffs is not included in the final bill.
However, some activists have called on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to veto the bill. As neither chamber of the state General Assembly currently holds a three-fifths Republican super-majority, it is unclear that they would have the votes to override it.