Citizen Green: Dangerous lies about sheriffs and immigrants

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North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore showed how political farce takes on a reality of its own during his March 20 appearance on “The Ingraham Angle,” part of Fox News’ fact-free zone, also known as state television news.

“Another sheriff is saying his officers will no longer hold ICE detainees, leaving more dangerous criminals on the streets,” host Laura Ingraham erupted in scorn, seated next to former acting ICE director Tom Homan.

Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller represents the perfect bugaboo for Fox News’ paranoid audience as a Democrat, an African American and a law enforcement official in the liberal so-called “sanctuary city” of Asheville.

Ingraham rolled some tape of Sheriff Miller explaining, “We do not make or enforce immigration laws. That is not part of our law enforcement duties. I will be attacked for this policy directive, maybe even by ICE. A detainer request is not a valid warrant.”

Then Ingraham invited Moore, whom she introduced as one of a number of “folks fighting back,” to respond.

“Well, respectfully, I say that sheriff is wrong,” Moore said. “And that’s why we’ve filed the legislation that we have — to mandate that sheriffs must honor these ICE detainees [sic].”

In case anyone gets the wrong idea from Speaker Moore’s statement, Sheriff Miller is right in saying that “a detainer request is not a valid warrant.”

But Moore’s spokesman, Joseph Kyzer, suggested in response to a fact-check by PolitiFact that his boss had been misunderstood.

“The speaker responded with his opinion of the sheriff’s stance on not cooperating with ICE, that he believes the sheriff is wrong to refuse such cooperation,” Kyzer said. “The speaker knows all too well that compliance with ICE is not currently required of sanctuary sheriffs under North Carolina law — that’s why he went on national television supporting legislation to do just that.”

To further color in the landscape of non-facts, Ingraham posts a graphic to illustrate Moore’s claim that “it’s irresponsible for any official, particularly a law enforcement official, to in any way advocate releasing someone who is a criminal, who has committed a crime back out of the streets, who should not even be here.” Under the header “Illegal aliens released under sanctuary sheriffs in North Carolina,” it lists a “22-year-old arrested for assault on female, two assaults on gov. officials; 19-year-old arrested for manslaughter; 22-year-old arrested for drug smuggling; and 20-year-old arrested for kidnapping & first-degree rape.”

Of course, the spurious infographic suggests that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than their counterparts, and of course that’s exactly the opposite of reality. Whatever the timeframe for the Fox News review, one could quickly assemble a list of citizens arrested for assault on female, assault on government official, manslaughter, drug smuggling, kidnapping and first-degree rape who were then released on bond, after their charges were dismissed or after they were found not guilty.

House Bill 370, entitled “Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE,” is a political circus act designed to enthrall Republican base voters who love to hate urban liberals. It’s no accident that Republican lawmakers are pushing this legislation after black Democrats were elected to sheriff’s offices in the state’s seven largest counties. The new sheriffs are naturally highlighting their friendliness to immigrants as a means of connecting with their own political base, but in many cases their policies aren’t a departure from their white Republican predecessors. That’s because many legal analysts have concluded that honoring ICE detainers is unlawful, and the black Democratic sheriffs, like their white Republican predecessors, took an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution.

“I’m in a battle with the ICE folks,” BJ Barnes, then the white Republican sheriff of Guilford County, told TCB way back in the distant political past — April 2018. “They’re asking me to do something illegal. They want me to hold these folks in jail on a detainer beyond the adjudication of their charges. That’s unconstitutional and it’s a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.”

I don’t recall any Republican lawmakers labeling Barnes, who campaigned for Donald Trump, as a “sanctuary sheriff.” Somehow, I don’t think they would have gotten as much political mileage out of it.

When I have a question about a sheriff’s office policy, I typically go to the sheriff’s attorney. Unlike the sheriffs, who have to worry about whether they’re keeping voters and line officers happy, the attorney’s job is to worry about whether the agency is acting within the bounds of the law.

“The sheriff’s office does not… honor requests (i.e. detainers) from ICE to actually hold an inmate for up to 48 hours after the inmate’s state criminal charges have been resolved,” Guilford County Sheriff’s Attorney Jim Secor said in a Feb. 11 email to TCB. “The reason is that the act of holding such inmates after their state criminal charges have been resolved is very likely a ‘seizure’ for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment and the United States Constitution.”

This is the lawyer for the Guilford County sheriff. His opinion is the same now that he works for a black Democrat sheriff as it was when he worked for a white Republican.

Republicans love law and order — except, apparently, when it doesn’t suit them.