NCGA Republicans are again forcing their extreme agenda on local governments, this time at the expense of families and on taxpayers’ dime

NC Republicans led by House Speaker Tim Moore want to force North Carolina sheriffs to work with the Trump administration’s immigration agents.House Bill 370 would require sheriffs to “comply with, honor, and fulfill” any requests made by Trump’s immigration agents, including requests to detain people without evidence, and would require sheriffs to allow immigration officers access to local jails or detention facilities. In addition, H370 empowers any individual who believes law enforcement is violating these rules to file legal action in Superior Court. If the court agrees, law enforcement officers could incur increasing fines up to $25k per day. With this bill lawmakers are again trying to supersede the will of the voters in N.C. counties who elected sheriffs on their promises to protect all county residents.

Following a significant organized push from concerned citizens, Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead, and Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, all Black men, promised to stop complying with Trump’s immigration agents under the 287(g) program. This program allows local law enforcement to act as immigration agents—giving them power to surveil and detain people without evidence. Baker, Birkhead, Rogers, and McFadden were all elected for the first time in 2018, defeating opposition who wanted to sign on or expand the program under the Trump administration. Voters in Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, and Durham counties said loud and clearly that they wanted all of their neighbors to feel safe and have held these sheriffs accountable to that promise. Since the election, Forsyth County’s new sheriff Bobby Kimbrough also denounced the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

The Republican bill would create an unfunded financial burden on local law enforcement in order to force Trump’s extreme agenda on our communities, making everyone less safe. To comply with the bill, sheriffs would be forced to deport thousands of people and detain thousands more, even without evidence they committed a crime. It would also require N.C. taxpayers pay millions to enforce Trump’s immigration policy; these resources would better be used on the work local law enforcement do to keep our communities safe.

This is not the first time NCGA Republicans forced their extreme agenda on everyone in an attempt to supersede the rights of voters at the local level. In 2016 lawmakers passed HB2, known as the “bathroom bill,” in direct reaction to a nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte that included specific protections for trans and gender nonconforming Charlotteans. HB2 and its fallout are still harming the LGBTQ community in North Carolina, who still does not enjoy legal protections from discrimination. HB2’s economic fallout was also devastating to much of the state that lost vital travel and tourism dollars because the business community hated the idea of the state legislature picking on a vulnerable population. It is clear Republicans didn’t learn their lesson from HB2. 

In November 2018, voters said they wanted law enforcement to stop breaking up immigrant families and detaining people without evidence, but Republicans in NCGA want to impose an extreme and divisive agenda on the whole state. They want to force local governments to act out their will, even when it is a will that harms the citizens of this state.