North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Vetoes Anti-Sanctuary Bill

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have mandated local law enforcement officials in the state to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Cooper on Wednesday vetoed House Bill 370, titled “An Act to Require Compliance with Immigration Detainers and Administrative Warrants.” If the legislation had been signed into law, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials working in North Carolina would be required to honor ICE detainer requests.

ICE regularly sends detainer requests to detention centers holding suspects believed to be living in the U.S. illegally. These requests ask that suspects remain in custody until ICE agents are able to retrieve them. Under the North Carolina bill, authorities who do not honor detainers would be subject to dismissal.

Such a law, which has been signed in other states, would clamp down on “sanctuary” cities and other municipalities that explicitly ignore ICE detainer requests.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) look on after executing search warrants and making some arrests at an agricultural processing facility in Canton

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS

“This legislation is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina,” Cooper said in a Wednesday press release. “This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties.”

The bill was passed by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, with GOP members ripping the Democratic governor for the veto.

“Law enforcement officers have a sworn responsibility to protect their citizens — and that includes cooperating with federal authorities,” North Carolina state Sen. Chuck Edwards said. “Governor Cooper, who prefers to pander to his far-left supporters, we will protect North Carolinians and plan to override his irresponsible veto.”

Cooper, who is up for re-election in 2020, issued his veto just days after ICE agents captured Oscar Pacheco, an illegal alien living the state. Despite being charged with first-degree rape and “indecent liberties” with a child, authorities in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, did not comply with an ICE detainer, according to the agency. (RELATED: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Anti-Sanctuary Bill Into Law)

ICE went on to provide an extensive list of recent detainer requests ignored by Mecklenburg County. Of the 22 illegal aliens featured on the list, many of them were charged with assault and rape.

State governments are becoming largely divided over immigration enforcement and cooperation with federal immigration officials. Florida’s Republican governor, for example, passed and signed an anti-sanctuary bill into law. Washington state and Colorado, both run by Democrats, signed sanctuary bills that forbid cooperation with ICE.

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