On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have made local law enforcement ask about prisoners’ immigration status and cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Cooper claims that this bill is unconstitutional. According to The Hill, Cooper argues that this bill would weaken state enforcement by giving sheriffs tasks that belong to federal immigration agents.
This bill made it out both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly, which have Republican majorities.
In statement Cooper said, “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.”
He continued, “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.”
This legislation would have ordered law enforcement to determine a person’s legal status. If they couldn’t determine their immigration status, law enforcement officials would have to contact U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Department of Homeland Security to gather more information about their status.
Cooper’s decision to veto this legalization was met with fierce criticism from several North Carolina Republicans according to reports from The Charlotte Observer.
Republican State Senator Chuck Edwards claims that by vetoing this bill 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.”
Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden was opposed to this bill in June. He asserted that the bill threatened to decrease trust between law enforcement and the immigrant community.
The sheriff believed that the bill would make North Carolina communities “less safe.”
He declared, “This is a dangerous experiment in playing politics with our public safety.”
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