Gov. Cooper vetoes bill that would have required NC sheriffs to comply with ICE detainers

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Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed House Bill 370 on Wednesday, a bill that would have required North Carolina sheriff's departments to comply with ICE detainers. 

House Bill 370 62-53 would have required local sheriff's to report and detain individuals for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill passed the state House this week before heading to Gov. Cooper's desk. 

The bill was stated as "an act to require compliance with immigration detainers and administrative warrants."


If it had been signed into law, it would have forced law enforcement agencies to obey ICE's requests to keep inmates locked up for 48 hours so they can be turned over for possible deportation. Sheriff's who didn't comply would face removal from office, had the bill become law. 

Gov. Roy Cooper released the following statement on Wednesday: 

"This legislation is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina. As the former top law enforcement officer of our state, I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status.

This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties.

Finally, to elevate their partisan political pandering, the legislature has made a sheriff’s violation of this new immigration duty as the only specifically named duty violation that can result in a sheriff’s removal from office."

Statement from Senator Chuck Edwards: 

“Despite Governor Cooper’s attempt to distract folks with reckless rhetoric and name calling, the message this veto sends is abundantly clear: He is more concerned about protecting the ‘rights’ of people in this country illegally who are in jail for committing crimes than he is about protecting the safety of our communities and the citizens that live in them.

Instead of signing this common sense bill, Governor Cooper is choosing to side with sheriffs like the Mecklenburg County Sheriff who in June ignored an ICE detainer request on a man in custody for rape and child sex offense charges and released this dangerous individual back into the community. Thankfully ICE tracked down this suspect earlier this month without further incident, but that won’t always be the case in these instances.

Law enforcement officers have a sworn responsibility to protect their citizens and that includes cooperating with federal authorities. Unlike Governor Cooper who prefers to pander to his far left supporters, we will protect North Carolinians and plan to override his irresponsible veto.”

Statement from ACLU Regional Immigrants’ Rights Strategist Alissa Ellis: 

“We applaud Governor Cooper for standing up for all communities and vetoing this extreme and dangerous anti-immigrant bill. House Bill 370 seeks to undo the will of voters across the state by forcing democratically elected sheriffs to do ICE’s bidding and help the Trump administration carry out its brutal deportation agenda.

If it were to become law, this dangerous measure would make all communities less safe by spreading fear and discouraging witnesses and victims of crime from contacting law enforcement. We urge legislators to sustain the governor’s veto in order to ensure that this vindictive attack on our communities and local governments never becomes law.”

Statement from Mecklenburg County Senator Dan Bishop and House lawmakers: 

  • Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) is the primary sponsor of HB 370 and the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Matters. "Today we find out North Carolina has a sanctuary Governor. As Governor Cooper has vetoed House Bill 370 that simply would have required sheriff's to honor ICE detainers, something almost every sheriff in this state is already doing." 
  • Senator Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) is the only Republican state legislator representing Mecklenburg County. "Many claim to be voices of moderation and to be prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan way. I can't think of any issue where it would be more obvious and more appropriate to do that then when community safety and protection of victims is at issue. The governor should have signed this legislation, and it still should pass over his veto."