North Carolina House Passes Detainer Bill
By Colton R. Overcash | April 11, 2019
With more than ten immigration-related bills filed already this year, the North Carolina General Assembly is quickly making the subject a top legislative priority. One bill in particular would dramatically strengthen the Tar Heel State’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On March 14, State Representative Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) filed House Bill (HB) 370. Among other things, HB 370 would require local law enforcement to honor immigration detainers for illegal aliens who have already been arrested for a crime. It passed the House of Representatives on April 3 by a vote of 63-51 and is currently in the Senate Rules and Operations Committee.
The bill was introduced after local sheriffs in Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, and Wake counties announced they would no longer cooperate with ICE or honor immigration detainers.
Last year, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden (D) announced that he would no longer honor detainers because they “erode trust in the community” and “make people less safe.”
Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller (D) made similar remarks about his own detainer policy, saying that local law enforcement shouldn’t “make or enforce immigration laws, this is not part of our law enforcement duties.”
But state lawmakers do not see it that way. As Rep. Hall describes it, “[a]t the end of the day, this is about public safety — it’s as simple as that ... These sanctuary sheriffs are simply putting partisan politics ahead of public safety.”
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), who in an unusual move co-sponsored HB 370, told Fox News that “it’s just irresponsible for any official, particularly a law enforcement official, to in any way advocate releasing someone who is a criminal, who committed a crime, back out onto the streets, who should not even be here.”
“If the law-abiding citizens of North Carolina are subject to the enforcement of state and federal law, then illegal immigrants detained for committing crimes should be too,” Moore added.
Some members of the state’s congressional delegation have also been outspoken in supporting the measure. Congressman Mark Meadows (R) said “I support them in their efforts to make sure that our chief constitutional law enforcement officers in every county helps enforce the laws.”
And U.S. Congressman David Rouzer (R) agreed, saying, “I think it’s a good, common-sense issue, and I’m glad the legislature is moving forward on that.”
HB 370 isn’t endorsed by everyone though. The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association announced that while it is opposed to illegal immigration and supports the enforcement of federal immigration laws, it does not think the proposed bill “is the appropriate method to address this very important issue.”
And of course, the open-borders lobby is already protesting the bill and demanding that Governor Roy Cooper (D) veto it. Stefania Arteaga, who founded Comunidad Colectiva, said “this would really be Gov. Cooper’s first opportunity to veto a bill that will really harm communities of color.”
"We don't want ICE in the community. We're not gonna stand down. We're gonna continue to come out and protest and do what we need to do,” Arteaga added.
If HB 370 passes the Senate, it probably faces a good chance of a veto. While the governor has not taken a firm public position, his staff reportedly said “he has serious concerns about taking away local authority and making it harder for local law enforcement to do their jobs.”
If Gov. Cooper vetoes HB 370, the Republican-controlled legislature will not have enough votes in either chamber for an override.