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Republican lawmakers want to give Trump’s immigration agents free reign over North Carolina at the expense of community safety and the authority of local elected officials

Summary
  • H370 forces North Carolina sheriffs to work with the Trump administration's immigration agents, also known as ICE, and allows sheriffs to be removed from office for failing to comply 
  • H370 forces Trump's extreme agenda on our communities, an act of retaliation against sheriffs who stood up for immigrants and public safety
  • Forcing sheriffs to act as an extension of ICE undermines public safety by diverting much needed resources away from other safety initiatives, decreasing voluntary reporting of crime, and spreading fear throughout our immigrant communities. 
  • H370 does not advance community safety. Sheriffs are accountable to their communities, and people can vote out sheriffs who enact policies they disagree with. ICE agents, however; are anonymous and can yield unchecked power.

NC Republicans want to force North Carolina sheriffs to work with the Trump administration’s immigration agents, also known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). House Bill 370 would require sheriffs to “comply with, honor, and fulfill” any requests made by Trump’s agents, including requests to detain people without evidence. The bill, passed by the North Carolina House in early April and being heard in a Senate committee Wednesday, would require sheriffs to allow immigration officers access to local jails or detention facilities. Furthermore, H370 allows a sheriff to be removed from office for failing to comply with a detainer request.

H370 forces Trump's extreme agenda on our communities in an act of retaliation with detrimental impacts on community safety

Over the past few years, the Trump administration has escalated its federal immigration policies to new levels of cruelty. Tensions between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, who detain people without probable cause, have reached new heights. Caught in the crossfire are the people these harmful policies directly impact who no longer feel safe in their communities. 

H370 would force Trump’s extreme agenda on our communities, an act of retaliation that makes 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. Forcing sheriffs to act as an extension of ICE undermines public safety by diverting much needed resources away from other safety initiatives, decreasing voluntary reporting of crime, and spreading fear throughout our immigrant communities. 

Sheriffs are accountable to their communities, and people can vote out sheriffs who enact policies they disagree with. ICE agents, however; are anonymous and can yield unchecked power.

The bottom line is that H370 does not advance community safety. Sheriffs are accountable to their communities, and people can vote out sheriffs who enact policies they disagree with. ICE agents, however; are anonymous and can yield unchecked power. They create unsafe communities where people cannot even pick up groceries without worrying they will never see friends or relatives again. People are afraid to report crimes and people experiencing domestic abuse often stay with their abuser rather than leave home and risk being detained. H370 further erodes mistrust of law enforcement that can be detrimental to public safety. 

In Fall 2018 voters in Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, and Durham counties spoke clearly in their sheriff elections; they wanted all of their neighbors to feel safe and they did not want sheriffs collaborating with Trump’s immigration agents. In retaliation for ousting Republican sheriffs in four populous counties, Republicans introduced H370, which would penalize sheriffs who speak against ICE. It is clear that lawmakers are imposing Trump’s will over the will of the voters who elected sheriffs based on their promises to protect all county residents. 

Some sheriffs still oppose H370, even a Republican District Attorney agreed that sheriffs should "not be an extension of ICE"

Some sheriffs have backed off of their opposition to H370 after the Senate made changes to the bill, but Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers pulled his support from the bill, saying it has “constitutional and legal flaws.”

Forsyth County’s sheriff Bobby Kimbrough denounced the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The county’s Republican DA Jim O’Neill agreed with Kimbrough’s statement that the Sheriff’s Office would “not be an extension of ICE.”O’Neill’s position differs from his Republican colleagues in the General Assembly.

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.