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Fact vs Fiction: Bill Requiring NC Sheriffs to Cooperate with ICE Detainer Requests

Raleigh, N.C. – Over the past few months, a debate has raged as a bill moves through the legislature that would require North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and honor detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The majority of the sheriffs in North Carolina already honor ICE detainer requests when they have illegal immigrants suspected of committing crimes in their custody who may commit additional crimes if not detained. However, a few sheriffs have refused to honor these detainers, arguing that they are not legitimate warrants and local officers are not required to enforce federal laws.

In the ongoing debate over this bill, a number of claims have been made about the intentions of the bill or what it does that are simply not true.

1)    FICTION: This bill is targeting African American sheriffs…

FACT: For years North Carolina Republicans have been very clear where they stand on local law enforcement policies that ignore federal immigration authorities. In fact, in 2015, legislative Republicans passed a law outlawing sanctuary cities in North Carolina. Their opposition to sheriffs ignoring ICE detainers should not be a surprise to anybody. Saying that these sheriffs are being targeted because of their race rather than the policies they support is not just inaccurate, it’s offensive

2)    FICTION: This is just another form of racial profiling

FACT: This bill has nothing whatsoever to do with race. It would only affect people who are in the country illegally and are currently in jail charged with a crime. It could be someone in the county illegally from Mexico, Canada or Norway, it doesn’t matter. All would be treated the same under this law. 

3)    FICTION: This bill would tear apart families and make illegal immigrants scared to contact police to report crimes or other issues…

FACT: Opponents of this bill continue to conflate it with other immigration issues currently going on in the country. This bill has nothing to do with family separation, border policies, detention centers or ICE raids. It simply requires sheriffs in North Carolina to comply with ICE detainers for illegal immigrants suspected of crimes that are currently in their custody. Once again, this bill only covers illegal immigrants currently in jail; not families, children or anyone else not currently in jail.

4)    FICTION: This bill would threaten the safety of victims of domestic violence…

FACT: This bill would actually have the opposite effect and protect those who have been victims of domestic violence by illegal immigrants from becoming victims once again. A similar situation arose last month in Charlotte when the Mecklenburg County Sheriff chose not to comply with an ICE detainer and instead released a man who arrested on domestic violence charges. That same man later engaged in a nine-hour standoff with police after once again assaulting the same woman he was arrested for assaulting the first time.