House Bill Requiring N.C. Sheriffs Cooperate With ICE Detainers Considered by Senate Committee

Sheriffs’ Association supports revised bill

Raleigh, N.C. – Sponsors of a state House bill to require North Carolina sheriffs cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to honor detainers for criminal illegal immigrants responded to a revised proposal supported by the state’s Sheriffs’ Association and considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

House Bill 370 Require Sheriff Cooperation With Ice 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 served sixteen years as the Sheriff of Pender County.

A revised proposal considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday would require arrestees with an ICE detainer to appear before a magistrate judge and drew the support of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.

Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) noted an ongoing controversy in Mecklenburg County where the sheriff released a previously deported illegal immigrant charged with crimes including assault on a female, communicating threats, felony larceny, simple assault, and injury to personal property, despite an ICE detainer.

Luis Pineda-Anchet was arrested again two days later and charged with assault by strangulation, first degree kidnapping, assault on a female, domestic violence protective order violation, communicating threats, felony larceny, assault on a female, simple assault, and injury to personal property.

Pineda-Anchet was released again on June 1, 2019.

“These sheriffs are releasing folks onto the streets who should not be released,” Rep. Hall told the senate committee.  “It’s time to put a stop to that.  It’s the sheriffs’ job to protect the community.”  

“It’s extremely important during debate on this bill to remember it only applies to illegal immigrants charged with crimes in North Carolina.”

Eddie Caldwell, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, thanked the bill sponsors for their work on the revised proposal and said in committee that his organization supports the bill.

“It is the Association’s position that this edition of House Bill 370 provides an appropriate and careful balance under the Constitution for the rights of the accused and for the public safety of our communities,” the Sheriffs’ Association said in a release Wednesday.   

“For these reasons, the Association SUPPORTS – HIGH PRIORITY enactment of this edition of House Bill 370 by the North Carolina General Assembly,” the release said.

Rep. Brenden Jones said the state legislature shouldn’t have to force sheriffs to uphold their oaths.

“There was a public outcry, that’s why this bill is before you,” Rep. Jones said.  “This is commonsense legislation that shouldn’t have to be debated, but here we are.”  

“We should not allow sheriffs to release criminals in North Carolina illegally from our county jails by refusing cooperation with their fellow law enforcement officers seeking to detain them.” 

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.

“We appreciate the Senate and the Sheriffs’ Association working with us to consider this critical issue for public safety in North Carolina communities,” Saine said. 

“Ignoring our nation’s law enforcement officers by releasing criminal illegal immigrants is an unacceptable practice we must put a stop to.”

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.

“If a criminal illegal immigrant charged with breaking North Carolina law is in custody, to actively prevent their arrest by federal law enforcement officers puts the public 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.

“Law-abiding citizens in North Carolina are subject to enforcement of state and federal law and criminal illegal immigrants should be too,” Moore said.