Rep. Destin Hall, Sponsor of Bill Requiring N.C. Sheriffs Cooperate With ICE, Says Legislature Has Duty to Protect Constituents

Raleigh, N.C. – Rep. Destin Hall, primary sponsor of legislation requiring North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and honor detainers for illegal immigrants in county jails said on Wednesday that law enforcement and state legislators have a duty to protect their constituents. .

The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 370 Require Sheriff Cooperation With ICE on Wednesday after the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association issued a public memo supporting a revised version of the proposal last week.

Rep. Destin Hall said in committee on Wednesday the bill represents a “commonsense” public safety protection for victims and innocent people in North Carolina.

“The important thing to keep in mind in debating this bill is it only applies to illegal immigrants who have committed crimes in North Carolina and are in their respective county jail at the time,” Rep. Hall said.

“It codifies what almost every sheriff in this state is already doing.  The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association has endorsed this bill because they know what we know: it’s commonsense for sheriffs to do everything they possibly can to protect their citizens, that’s their duty. If they don’t do that, we at the General Assembly also have a duty to protect our constituents, and we’re going to do that.

The legislation is also sponsored by Rep. Carson Smith (R-Pender), who was the sheriff of Pender County for 16 years, as well as Deputy House Majority Leader Brenden Jones (R-Columbus) and Senior Appropriations Committee co-chair Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln).  Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is a co-sponsor of H.B. 370.

Sheriffs in several urban North Carolina counties are currently refusing to cooperate with immigration officials to enforce federal law, though the vast majority of the state’s sheriffs continue to honor ICE detainers for illegal immigrants accused of crimes in North Carolina.

The “sanctuary sheriffs” in North Carolina have released illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes including assault on a government official, assault on a female, manslaughter, indecent liberties with a child, rape, kidnapping, and forcible sex offenses, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“The federal government is going to enforce immigration law no matter what any state does,” Rep. Hall said. “When a sheriff refuses to honor an ICE detainer, the result is not that the federal government throws their hands up and says we can’t enforce our laws anymore.”

“They’re going to enforce those laws, except now they have to go to a factory, into a community, out on the streets, to enforce the law.  It makes it more dangerous, it doesn’t make sense to do that, and that’s why so many sheriffs have cooperated with ICE in the past.” 

The revised proposal considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday would require arrestees with an ICE detainer to appear before a magistrate judge and provides a 48-hour time window for sheriffs to hold those criminal illegal immigrants accused of crimes in county jails so that ICE may serve the detainer.

The legislation also requires sheriffs’ offices to report the number of queries they make to federal officials under its provisions and only applies to illegal immigrants who have been charged with a crime in North Carolina.

Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus) was also in committee on Wednesday and said H.B. 370 is a response to public outcry regarding the refusal by some sheriffs to honor detainer requests from federal law enforcement for illegal immigrants charged with crimes.

“We’re in public office to protect the people, first and foremost,” Rep. Jones said.

“North Carolinians depend on their elected leaders to keep politics out of public safety.  We must respond to the grave risk that these sheriffs have posed to innocent people by releasing criminal illegal immigrants despite law enforcement detainers.”

An ongoing controversy in Mecklenburg County involves the local sheriff’s repeated release of a previously deported illegal immigrant charged with crimes including assault on a female, communicating threats, felony larceny, simple assault, and injury to personal property, despite an ICE detainer.

Luis Pineda-Anchet was arrested again two days after his initial release and charged with assault by strangulation, first degree kidnapping, assault on a female, domestic violence protective order violation, communicating threats, felony larceny, assault on a female, simple assault, and injury to personal property.

Pineda-Anchet was released again on June 1, 2019.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill by a voice vote.

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