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Governor vetoes 'ICE' bill, says it is meant to stir fear in NC

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Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday vetoed Senate Bill 101, legislation that would require all sheriffs to hold suspects in certain crimes for at least 48 hours when their immigration status is unknown or they are in the country illegally.

After being dormant since March 2021, the so-called “ICE bill” was fast-tracked through the General Assembly in the final week of the regular 2022 session. Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, is among the cosponsors.

The controversial bill cleared the House by a 65-49 vote on June 30 and the Senate by a 25-19 vote on July 1 — both along partisan lines and both short of the 30 Senate and 72 House votes necessary to override a veto.

A Cooper veto was expected considering he vetoed a similar Republican-sponsored bill in August 2019.

“This law is only about scoring political points and using fear to divide North Carolinians,” Cooper said. “As the state’s former top law enforcement officer, I know that current law already allows the state to incarcerate and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status.

“This bill is unconstitutional and weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating that sheriffs do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties.”

Other Cooper vetoes

Cooper also vetoed:

House Bill 49

  • , which would require sheriffs to waive firearm safety and training courses for those who let their concealed weapons permit lapse.

Cooper said HB49 “is yet another way Republicans are working to chip away at commonsense gun-safety measures that exist in North Carolina.”

Senate Bill 593

  • , which would shift oversight responsibilities for the state Schools for the Deaf and Blind from the State Board of Education to a newly created board with 80% of the trustees appointed by the legislature “who may or may not know how to run these schools,” Cooper said.

House Bill 823

  • , which would alter how some children being assisted by county departments of Social Services are referred for pediatric care.

With the legislature adjourning the regular phase of the 2022 session on July 1, the first time Republicans could attempt to override any of the vetoes would be the first in a series of monthly special sessions slated to begin July 26.

ICE responses

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement after SB101 cleared the legislature July 1 that included a quote from Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr., who opposed the previous efforts in 2019.

“We will continue to do what is moral, what is legal and what is right,” Kimbrough said. “We have been and will continue to be a law-abiding law enforcement agency.”

Other urban sheriffs have made similar statements.

Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson and the bill’s primary sponsor, told the House Rules and Operations committee on June 28 that SB101 is necessary because “a number of sheriffs have refused to cooperate” with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Edwards said changes made to SB101 address Cooper’s concerns about the previous bill. “Instead of requiring a query of ICE on any infraction of anyone who is brought into a jail, it only requires an inquiry when someone is accused of the most heinous crimes,” he said.

Edwards said the second major difference reflects concerns expressed by Cooper about potential criminal penalties for sheriffs who decline to cooperate with ICE involving jail detainees.

On Monday, Edwards said that “with the stroke of his pen, Gov. Cooper just gave sanctuary sheriffs permission to shield an illegal immigrant who rapes or murders a North Carolinian.”

“Keeping violent criminals off our streets should be a shared priority, but this veto proves that Gov. Cooper isn’t interested in increasing public safety if it goes against his liberal donors’ wishes.”

The passage of SB101 is “a classic messaging bill that is intended to put legislators on record for their votes, and in ways that can sometimes be difficult to defend in re-election campaigns,” said John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University and national expert on state legislatures.

SB101 criticism

Meanwhile, critics of SB101 say the measure could increase jail time for suspects who have otherwise met the conditions for release.

They also point out it would force sheriff’s offices to investigate the immigration status of anyone booked into the jail.

The N.C. Justice Center has referred to SB101 as a “Show Me Your Papers” bill that would harm immigrant families and communities.

“This bill unjustly used stereotypes to further criminalize the immigrant community,” said Adriel Orozco, the center’s staff attorney.

“It also failed to acknowledge that the criminal punishment system is separate and apart from our federal civil immigration system.”

The Carolinas chapter of the American Business Immigration Coalition praised Cooper’s veto, saying in a statement that “SB101 is economically harmful, morally wrong and threatens the safety of every North Carolinian by forcing local law police to execute the duties of federal agents.

“More than 400 business, community leaders and advocates signed a letter urging the governor to oppose this legislation.

“At a time of unprecedented labor shortage and rising food costs, we do not need misguided policies that upend North Carolina’s workforce and undermine the safety and prosperity of every North Carolina family.”

Tillis response

GOP U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said in a statement Monday that Cooper “has effectively declared North Carolina a sanctuary state.”

Tillis has introduced the federal Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act, which he said would clarify the Department of Homeland Security’s detainer authority, “clearly establish the authority of states and localities to maintain custody in cases in which a detainer has been issued, and incentivize cooperation between law enforcement agencies and DHS through the reimbursement of certain detention, technology, and litigation-related costs.”

Tillis also introduced the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, legislation that holds jurisdictions accountable for failing to comply with lawful detainer and release notification requests made by federal authorities.

“The veto of a commonsense bill to stop sanctuary city policies allows his political allies to keep ignoring federal law enforcement and keep releasing dangerous and violent criminals back into communities across North Carolina where they will continue to commit violent crimes,” Tillis said.

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s weak border enforcement policies, combined with the soft-on-crime policies promoted by liberal leaders, are making our state and nation less safe.”

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@rcraverWSJ

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