RALEIGH (August 22, 2019) – The North Carolina Justice Center sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper this week urging him to veto House Bill 370, which supports the Trump Administration’s deportation machine while turning its back on duly elected Black sheriffs.

H.B. 370 requires all sheriffs in North Carolina to bring individuals that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) identifies for removal before a state judicial official so that the official can rubber stamp their detention. The bill will make communities less safe and raises serious constitutional issues, the Justice Center said in its letter, urging Governor Cooper to veto the drastic bill.

“The implementation of H.B. 370 would unlawfully require state judicial officials to interpret and apply federal law… [and would] strip North Carolinians of Fourth Amendment protections by failing to require an independent determination of probable cause prior to their detention by state officials,” writes Rick Glazier, Executive Director of the NC Justice Center.

Further, the bill discourages victims of crime from contacting police.

“By forcing local law enforcement to engage in immigration enforcement activities and, in practice, become an extension of ICE, H.B. 370 would create a heightened environment of fear and distrust toward local law enforcement,” the letter said. “The bill would decrease the likelihood that immigrants and those living in community with immigrants report crimes in our communities for fear of immigration-related consequences.”

Whenever there is entanglement between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, reports of crimes decrease, especially when the crimes involve domestic violence and sexual assault. Studies show that local law enforcement cooperation with ICE has either no positive effect or actually decreases public safety for these reasons.

At the same time, the bill contradicts the will of North Carolinians who elected Black sheriffs who vowed to end cooperation with ICE because it does not help keep their constituents safe. H.B. 370 is a retaliatory and punitive measure that capitulates the will of North Carolina voters to the plans of the Trump Administration to terrify the immigrant community.

In its letter to Governor Cooper, the NC Justice Center highlights the harms of the bill and presents the potential constitutional problems caused if sheriffs comply with its requirements. The letter urged the Governor to veto the bill without delay, as it would be bad policy for North Carolina.