RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The North Carolina Senate Committee on Judiciary met Wednesday to consider a 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 bill was approved by a 63-51 vote of the state House of Representatives in April.
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.
In April, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association (NCSA) released a statement urging the NC General Assembly not to enact the original bill, but on Wednesday, the Sheriffs’ Association provided a press release saying they were in support of the revised bill.
Eddie Caldwell, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, thanked the bill sponsors for their work on the revised proposal and said in committee that his organization supports the bill.
“It is the Association’s position that this edition of House Bill 370 provides an appropriate and careful balance under the Constitution for the rights of the accused and for the public safety of our communities,” the Sheriffs’ Association said in a release Wednesday. “For these reasons, the Association supports – high priority enactment of this edition of House Bill 370 by the North Carolina General Assembly,” the release said.