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Senate Passes Legislation Requiring Sheriffs to Work Together with Federal Immigration Authorities

Arrestees with an ICE detainer request must appear before a magistrate judge

Bill only applies to illegal immigrants already in custody for committing a crime

Raleigh, N.C. – The Senate passed a bill today that requires all North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when dealing with suspected illegal immigrants already in jail for committing other crimes that have detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

 A few sheriffs have recently chosen to no longer honor detainer requests from ICE, arguing that ICE detainers are not legitimate warrants and local officers are not required to enforce federal laws. This can result in criminals who are in the country illegally and in custody for committing a crime being released back into the community giving them the opportunity to commit other crimes as occurred in Charlotte last month.

House Bill 370, which is supported by the N.C Sheriff’s Association, requires arrestees with an outstanding ICE detainer to appear before a magistrate judge, who could then issue a warrant. This alleviates the concerns of sheriffs about enforcing federal detainer requests because local law enforcement must follow a magistrate judge’s determination.

“We should all be able to agree that serious criminals who are in this country illegally should not be allowed to stay in the United States,” said Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson). “This bill simply requires local law enforcement to work together with federal immigration authorities to ensure that the safety of our citizens is the number one priority.”

Under the law, the process for detainer requests would be as follows:

  • An arrestee would be asked to prove citizenship;
  • If he or she cannot prove citizenship, the police officer would contact ICE to check whether there is an outstanding detainer request;
  • If there is an outstanding ICE detainer request, the officer would take the arrestee to a magistrate judge within 24 hours;
  • The magistrate judge would authenticate the arrestee’s identity and issue a warrant;
  • Local law enforcement will hold the detainee for up to 48 hours to permit ICE to interview the detainee.

The N.C. Sheriffs’ Association supported the bill with high priority and released a statement earlier this month saying that the bill, “provides an appropriate and careful balance under the Constitution for the rights of the accused and for the public safety of our communities.”