RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The North Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday that would require local sheriffs to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
NC House Bill 370 would compel sheriffs to honor and fulfill ICE detainer requests and make it unlawful for any county to prohibit ICE officials from “entering or conducting immigration enforcement activities in a county jail, confinement facility, or other type of detention center.”
The bill was approved by a 63-51 vote of the state House of Representatives.
The legislation also requires sheriffs’ offices to track and report the number of queries they make to federal officials under its provisions.
House Bill 370 was also approved by the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House.
The bill allows citizens who resides in a jurisdiction they believe is not in compliance with the proposed law to bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief to enforce its provisions and require sheriff cooperation with federal officials.
Courts could impose civil penalties against any city, county or law enforcement agency that fails to comply with federal detention orders.
The legislation does not apply to persons who are victims or witnesses of a criminal offense, anyone who is reporting an offense, or anyone who can establish lawful United States citizenship or legal immigration into the country.
On Wednesday, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association (NCSA) released a statement Wednesday urging the NC General Assembly not to enact the proposed bill.
“The Association supports cooperation between sheriffs and all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. However, it is an unwise encroachment on the lawful responsibility of the sheriff, who serves as the ‘keeper of the jail,’ to mandate how this cooperation should occur,” the NCSA statement read. “Additionally, allowing for a ‘private enforcement’ court action is unwise and would likely instill a ‘chilling effect’ on sheriffs when deciding how to best carry out the duties of their office.”
The bill now moves over to the Senate to begin Senate committee debates.