RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association (NCSA) released a statement Wednesday urging the NC General Assembly not to enact a proposed bill 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 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 statement against enacting HB 370 comes just one day after NCSA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eddie Caldwell told WBTV the association asked legislators for more time to study the issue.
On Monday, Caldwell said three points in HB 370 were of particular interest to the association.
“One interest is the first section of the bill, which takes away the sheriffs’ discretion on which way they want to follow the existing law. There’s a concern with the - on the second page of the bill - with a section that addresses federal law enforcement officers coming into county jails, and it’s pretty open ended the way it’s drafted there,” said Caldwell. “Another section of the bill sets up civil liability with penalties up to $25,000 - and that’s a concern as well.”
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden was among the crowd at the House Rules Committee meeting when the bill was discussed.
“You’ve never spoken to me. You never even called me. You listened to one thing. You listened to ICE I’m a 38-year veteran of this state. I was 22-year homicide investigator in Charlotte NC,” Sheriff McFadden said. “So I take offense that you say I may be letting someone out of jail who is dangerous. My family lives there. I live there and I would never do that.”
House members in Raleigh are scheduled to debate and vote this week on HB 370. If the House votes in favor of the bill, it then moves over to the Senate to begin Senate committee debates.