Yesterday, the N.C. House approved a bill that strips local authority from sheriffs’ departments by requiring them to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and assist in enforcing federal immigration law.
The legislation now goes before Gov. Roy Cooper for consideration after the N.C. Senate passed the bill in June.
House Bill 370, the “Show Me Your Papers” law, would require all N.C. sheriffs and jails to comply with immigration detainer requests made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, even though these detainer requests are not considered valid warrants, which means sheriffs should have full discretion within their local authority to not recognize them.
The bill also requires police to determine the immigration status of any person arrested for a criminal charge and to notify ICE if the person is not a legal resident or citizen and forces jails to wait for federal approval before releasing an individual being held, even if the person is eligible for release under North Carolina law.
It would allow anyone to sue their local government if they believe it is not cooperating with immigration enforcement activities or breaking state law related to immigration.
HB370 is a direct response to local sheriffs across North Carolina, including Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden, choosing to end federal 287(g) programs in their counties, which ended the requirement of local law enforcement to cooperate with and assist ICE in detaining undocumented residents.
Mecklenburg County participated in 287(g) for 12 years. During that time, the program diverted our local public safety resources away from protecting our community toward carrying out federal immigration enforcement policies.
Instead of addressing and preventing violent crime, the program incentivized local law enforcement officials to actively seek out undocumented residents with no criminal history through procedures that border on racial profiling and erode trust in the immigrant community.
Mecklenburg County Sherriff Gary McFadden was elected to office on a wave of local support for ending the 287(g) program.
Now the N.C. General Assembly is trying to override the will of Mecklenburg County voters to assert its own control over how our local law enforcement officials do their jobs.
Is this the best use of tax-payer dollars to keep our community safe? We don’t think so.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy believes this bill is a detriment to community safety, local autonomy and family unity for all Mecklenburg County residents.
We urge Governor Roy Cooper to veto this legislation.
287(g) facilitated thousands of deportations by arresting individuals for minor traffic infractions or misdemeanors. This practice has torn families apart, made immigrants vulnerable targets for exploitation and eroded the trust of law enforcement in the immigrant community.
None of these ramifications made our community safer and neither does a systematic dragnet that targets communities of color. Instead, it forces people to withdraw from their communities, from working, attending school, seeking medical care and reporting crime out of fear.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy continues to stand with our immigrant neighbors, advocating for inclusion and fairness under the law to ensure their safety, security and stability in our community.
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Our community deserves safety, local autonomy and protected family unity.