Source: Editorial Board
As if debating legislation taking away abortion rights, making guns easier to buy and carry, jailing protesters, and forcing teachers to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their parents weren’t bad enough, North Carolina Republicans are once again trying to force local sheriffs to do the job of federal immigration agents.
Hoping that the third time is the charm, Republicans in the House have once again filed legislation that would require all sheriffs to cooperate with ICE agents.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed two previous versions of the measure and Republicans did not have the votes to override his veto. Things could be different this time around.
Republicans are obsessed with this legislation because they are angry that Democratic sheriffs in some of the state’s biggest counties have – for years – refused to work with ICE on immigration issues.
According to Republicans, House Bill 10 is a safety issue – they believe that sheriffs all over the state are letting criminals wanted by ICE out of jail and allowing them to commit more crimes.
The truth is that HB 10 is nothing more than yet another cruel bill written by right-wing extremists with the sole intention of using it to target immigrants and marginalized communities. Forcing sheriffs and deputies to become junior ICE agents has proven to lead to racial profiling, xenophobia, and the sowing of fear and distrust in immigrant communities.
Forcing local sheriffs to do the federal government’s job also puts an undue burden – administrative and financial – on the departments. Laws such as HB 10 can lead to serious, expensive litigation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.
Ann Webb, an attorney for ACLU-NC, told a House committee that immigration detainers are not true arrest warrants and if a county sheriff holds an inmate in jail using a detainer, it could lead to lawsuits, according to The Associated Press.
The bill “would thwart the will of the voters in North Carolina’s largest counties, erode community safety by sowing distrust in law enforcement and expose sheriffs and counties to costly lawsuits for constitutional violations,” Webb told the House committee.
The House committee passed the bill on a divided voice vote, according to the AP.
El Pueblo’s Bryanna Garcia said that legislators in support of HB 10 are showing prejudice against immigrants.
“The constant urge to force sheriff departments to work with ICE will lead to extreme over-policing in Latinx communities,” said Garcia.
Republicans pushing HB10 are doing the same thing they’ve done nearly every day since the new legislative session started in January – focusing on the wrong priorities. This bill, like nearly every other bill the party has introduced, is built on scoring political points and using fear to divide North Carolinians.
There are serious problems facing North Carolinians, such as the enormous increase in the cost of living and the right-wing legislature’s failure to support the least-funded public education system in the country. HB10 is yet another example of Republicans’ misplaced priorities.