Posted on May 3, 2024

North Carolina Bill Ordering Sheriffs to Help Immigration Agents Closer to Law With Senate Vote

Makiya Seminera, Associated Press, May 2, 2024

Sheriffs would be required to temporarily hold inmates in jail that federal immigration agents believe are in the country illegally under a bill passed by the North Carolina Senate on Thursday.

But unlike two previous versions of the bill successfully shot down by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto in the last five years, the measure stands a strong chance of becoming law thanks to GOP seat gains.

The Senate voted along party lines for the measure in a 28-16 vote. Now the legislation returns to the House, where Speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday he supports the measure and that his chamber could vote on the Senate changes as soon as next week.

An affirmative House vote would send the measure to Cooper, who could veto it again. But a GOP supermajority in both chambers since last year means Cooper’s veto could be overridden and the bill enacted if Republicans stay united.

The bill, sponsored by several key House leaders, centers around the issue of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those are requests for local law enforcement to notify federal immigration agents about an inmate believed to be in the country unlawfully and maintain custody.

State Republicans have said the need for the bill is apparent as several sheriffs across the state, particularly from Democratic urban counties, haven’t cooperated with immigration agents.

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Under the proposed changes, all sheriffs or jailers are required to hold inmates accused of serious crimes for up to 48 hours if a detainer is issued. It also mandates the involvement of judicial officials to order law enforcement to hold the inmate in question, according to the bill.

A Senate amendment to the bill would allow anyone to file a complaint with the state Attorney’s General Office if they believe a jail administrator is not complying with the law. The legislation would go into effect on July 1.

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In response to the legislation, the governor’s office said Wednesday that Cooper was concerned if the bill was constitutional and effective in making communities safer. It would take away authority from sheriffs for “purely political purposes,” spokesperson Jordan Monaghan said.

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