This story was first published by Ahmed Jallow, NC Newsline
May 2, 2024

On May 1, the North Carolina Senate Committee on Rules and Operations approved HB10, a controversial bill requiring cooperation between all North Carolina sheriffs and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration from the whole chamber. If approved, the measure will return to the House for concurrence in Senate amendments.

North Carolina sheriffs are already required under current state law to try and determine the legal status of people they arrest and inform ICE. However, current law doesn’t require them to honor ICE detainer requests, which ask local authorities to hold someone believed to be in the country illegally for up to 48 hours while federal agents pick them up.

House Bill 10 will change that.

If it becomes law, the bill will require all 100 sheriffs in the state to notify ICE if they are unable to determine the legal status of a person charged with certain high-level offenses. It would compel sheriffs to honor ICE requests to detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally for up to 48 hours.

Dozens of people and advocates opposed to the bill gathered at the legislature on Wednesday under the banner “Todos Somos North Carolina” (“We Are All North Carolina”) to urge lawmakers to reject the bill.

The event was organized by El Pueblo, the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and other local groups.

Speakers at the rally warned that if passed, the bill would lead to racial profiling of Hispanic drivers and discourage undocumented immigrants from contacting the police.

“Misleading arguments have been used to justify this legislation,” said Iliana Santillan, executive director of El Pueblo referring to statements by the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, that 90 sheriffs voluntarily cooperate with ICE.

Santillan said only 15 sheriffs’ offices have signed agreements under the 287(g) program, which allows ICE to train local law enforcement officers for limited immigration duties.

“It has also been said that it will only target those who have committed a crime and we know that many people are in jails only as suspects. This bill opens the door to racial profiling and abuse of power by law enforcement.”

During the day, members of various groups visited 40 offices of House members and 25 Senate offices from 12 different counties to provide lawmakers with information about the contributions of immigrants in North Carolina, according to a release from El Pueblo.

Santillan, who is also a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs, told reporters that she plans to raise the issue at the council’s meeting tomorrow in Charlotte, saying the best she can hope for is the governor’s veto, though it is likely to be overridden by Republican legislators.

She also expressed disappointment that some legislators on the committees that considered the measure failed to speak out on behalf of those they purportedly support.

“Even if it passes, we just want legislators to really advocate for us and speak out when they’re needed to,” Santillan told reporters. “We saw in the committee hearings yesterday and today, and it’s a shame that legislators who have one’s voice that they support us didn’t stand up for our community members.”

NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: [email protected]. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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