Sponsors say legislation will protect public and law enforcement, apply to criminal charges against suspected illegal immigrants
Multiple North Carolina counties currently refusing to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Raleigh, N.C. – State House leaders filed legislation on Thursday to require North Carolina sheriffs cooperate with federal officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency seeking to serve detainers on suspected illegal immigrants charged with crimes.
House Bill 370 Require Sheriff Cooperation With ICE compels county sheriffs in North Carolina to honor and fulfill detainer requests from the federal government for illegal immigrants who are already incarcerated for being charged with a crime.
The bill also makes it unlawful for any county to prohibit federal immigration officials from entering or conducting immigration enforcement activities in a county jail, confinement facility, or other type of detention center.
The legislation does not apply to persons who are victims or witnesses of a criminal offense, anyone who is reporting an offense, or anyone who can establish lawful United States citizenship or legal immigration into the country.
H.B. 370 is sponsored by Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus) Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), and Rep. Carson Smith (R-Pender). The bill is co-sponsored by state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).
Rep. Hall is chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Matters as well as the House Elections Committee, Rep. Jones is the Deputy Majority Leader of the North Carolina House, and Rep. Saine is a Senior House Appropriations Committee co-chair.
Rep. Smith is a freshman legislator who served sixteen years as the Sheriff of Pender County.
“Several sheriffs in North Carolina aren’t communicating with their fellow law enforcement officers about the detention of illegal immigrants accused of crimes,” Rep. Hall said. “These sheriffs are putting politics ahead of public safety.”
“Their failure to cooperate with immigration officials only puts more innocent people and officers in harm’s way.”
The bill also allows any private citizen who resides in a jurisdiction they believe is not in compliance with the proposed law to bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief to enforce its provisions and require cooperation with federal officials. Courts could also impose civil penalties against any city, county, or law enforcement agency that fails to comply with federal detention orders.
Rep. Brenden Jones said the state legislature shouldn’t have to force sheriffs to uphold their oaths:
“This is commonsense legislation that shouldn’t have to be filed,” Jones said.
“This is about upholding the rule of law that North Carolina sheriffs swear an oath to defend, instead of making public safety political at great risk to the people of this state.”
“We will not allow criminals in the United States illegally to be released from our county jails without any notification of immigration officials.”
The legislation also requires sheriffs’ offices to track and report the number of queries they make to federal officials under its provisions.
Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), a Senior House Appropriations Committee co-chair and primary sponsor of the bill, noted the legislation only applies to illegal immigrants charged with criminal acts.
“North Carolinians need to know that their elected law enforcement officials intend to uphold the law and that they are always vigilant in protecting their rights,” Saine said. “By ignoring our nation’s laws, they fail in doing just that.”
Rep. Carson Smith (R-Pender), who served as the Sheriff of Pender County for 16 years, said he is a primary sponsor of the legislation to continue protecting North Carolinians.
“When we know a criminal and illegal immigrant, charged with breaking North Carolina law, is in the custody of officers, to actively prevent their arrest by federal law enforcement officers puts innocent people at risk,” Smith said.
State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said he co-sponsored the legislation to protect law-abiding North Carolinians who face enforcement of state and federal law.
“If the law-abiding citizens of North Carolina are subject to enforcement of state and federal law, then illegal immigrants detained for committing crimes should be too,” Moore said.