State legislature to wrestle more with ICE detainers bill

Posted 5/10/19

The central North Carolina area, including Chatham County, has seen multiple raids from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in recent years.

If a recently-submitted bill in the state …

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State legislature to wrestle more with ICE detainers bill

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Posted

The central North Carolina area, including Chatham County, has seen multiple raids from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in recent years.

If a recently-submitted bill in the state legislature is approved, the federal agency will have more power in the state.

The N.C. House approved last month House Bill 370, which would require county sheriffs to “comply with, honor and fulfill any request” made in detainer requests from ICE on any person charged with a criminal offense.

The legislation passed the House 63-51 along party lines, with Chatham’s Rep. Robert Reives II, a Democrat, voting against. Reives cited the opposition to the bill from the N.C. Sheriff’s Association, the lobbying group and professional organization for sheriffs across the state.

“Sheriffs that believe we need to be tougher on ICE and sheriffs that don’t believe we need to be tougher on ICE banded together and said we need to be against this bill,” he said.

In a statement, Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson did not share his opinion on the bill or say whether or not he was one of the sheriffs that supported opposing the bill. He simply said he would follow whatever was passed.

“Legislature is tasked with creating laws, just as we are entrusted with enforcing laws,” Roberson said. “Regardless of opinion, it is our duty and responsibility as law enforcement professionals to uphold the Constitution and enforce the criminal laws of our state.”

Reives said the bill “did not seem to have the best intentions,” saying legislation supporters were targeting specific sheriffs who had pledged to not comply with ICE requests — Wake, Mecklenburg and Durham counties elected such sheriffs last year.

Citing sheriffs in “several North Carolina counties,” a press release from House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) quoted lead sponsor Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell).

“These sanctuary sheriffs are simply putting partisan politics ahead of public safety,” Hall said. “This bill only applies to illegal immigrants who have been charged with crimes. Most sheriffs in our state are already doing what this bill requires, and they’re doing it voluntarily. They’re doing everything they possibly can to help protect their communities.”

A stipulation requiring law enforcement to check on the citizenship status of someone arrested for a felony or impaired driving offense was already in state law, but HB370 extends the stipulation to any criminal or impaired driving offense. Reives said that part of the law made it clear that it was not designed to address “the problem that it states to address,” immigration.

“It’s a frustrating issue for me. The same people at our level feel like it’s such a big issue now had super-majorities for the last six years and did nothing. You’ve had complete federal control for the last two years, and you did nothing. It’s offensive to take an issue like this that needs real solutions and politicize it.”

Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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