Another North Carolina Sheriff says he will not uphold ICE detainers and will release criminal illegal aliens back onto the streets. In response, state lawmakers are taking action to protect the public with a bill the would require law enforcement to cooperate with immigration enforcement officials.
“The sheriff’s office will continue to comply with all applicable state and federal laws, however, we do not make or enforce immigration laws; that is not part of our law enforcement duties,” Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller said at a March 19th press conference.
Miller is the latest in a line of sheriffs from Durham, Wake and Mecklenburg counties who are refusing to contact ICE or honor ICE detainers on illegal aliens they have in custody.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox responded to Miller’s remarks, telling the Asheville Citizen-Times that “as a direct result of this policy, persons in Asheville will see an increased presence of ICE.”
North Carolina’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Josh Stein, has made similar moves. In February, Stein contemplated joining a 16 state coalition which is suing President Trump over his emergency border declaration. The official North Carolina Department of Justice account tweeted a statement from Stein that said he has “serious concerns” about the declaration and are reviewing it.
“This is having real results,” North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said of an increasing number of law enforcement agencies nationwide refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
Moore added that “Some of the folks that we’ve seen already in North Carolina in these counties where some of these sheriffs have done this, are people who assaulted law enforcement officers, are people who committed sex offenses.”
Lawmakers in the state have responded to these ‘Sanctuary City’ Sheriffs by filing House Bill 370.
House Bill 370 is titled “Require Sheriff Cooperation With Ice,” and requires law enforcement in the state to “comply with, honor, and fulfill any request made in the detainer request provided by the federal government.”
Under the proposed bill, a sheriff may not stop or block federal immigration officials from entering or conducting immigration enforcement-related activities in a county jail or detention center.
The bill will require sheriffs’ offices to track and annually report the number of queries they make to ICE and Homeland Security and to requires the Governor’s Crime Commission make the reports available to the public.
“It’s just irresponsible for any official, particularly a law enforcement official, to in any way advocate releasing someone who is a criminal, who committed a crime, back out onto the streets, who should not even be here,” Speaker Moore said in his statement on sheriff’s in the state who refuse to honor ICE detainers.
In addition to requiring law enforcement to cooperate with ICE, the bill would grant private citizens the ability to bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief in a jurisdiction in which they live and in which they believe is not in complying with the proposed law.
Civil penalties are also included in House Bill 370 for any law enforcement agency that doesn’t comply. The penalties start at $1,000 to $1,500 per day for the first offense and up to $25,500 per day for each subsequent offense.
The primary sponsors of HB 370 are Reps. Destin Hall (r-Caldwell), Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Carson Smith (R- Columbus, Pender), and House Deputy Majority Leader Brenden Jones (R- Columbus, Robeson). Over 30 House lawmakers have signed on to support the bill so far.
This is not the first time lawmakers have had to step in an address an issue related to ‘Sanctuary Cities’. In 2015, Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act” (HB318) prohibiting municipalities from implementing sanctuary city ordinances. That law also requires E-Verify compliance for certain state contracts and rejects consular documents as a means of official identification.
Speaker Moore recently joined Fox News host Laura Ingraham to talk about the proposed legislation. Ingraham highlighted Buncombe Sheriff Miller’s remarks during the segment, adding in her remarks that “these are not sheriffs, these are activists.”
“Respectfully, I say that sheriff is wrong,” said Speaker Moore when asked about Miller’s comments that he will not uphold ICE detainer request and that an ICE detainer is “not a valid warrant.”
“This isn’t about illegal immigration,” said Moore. “It’s about criminals who happen to be here illegally and about honoring ICE detain orders because this is about public safety.”
Moore added that “when law enforcement officers have failed to do so, we’ve seen real instances where folks are murdered and injured.”
During the segment, Ingham brought up a list of illegal aliens recently arrested and then released by ‘Sanctuary City’ Sheriffs in North Carolina. The list included a 19-year old charged with manslaughter, a 20-year-old arrested for first-degree rape and kidnapping, a 22-year old arrested for assault on a female and two officers, and another 22-year old who arrested for drug smuggling.
House Bill 370 and Sheriff Miller’s comments come just a few weeks after ICE conducted raids across North Carolina which netted the arrests of around 200 illegal aliens.
ICE officials warned that these raids would “become the new normal” as long as certain law enforcement officials refused to honor ICE detainers.
“Residents should expect a more visible ICE presence in the Raleigh-Durham area,” said CE Atlanta field office Director Sean Gallagher. “ICE will now have no choice but to conduct more at large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work sites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests instead of arrests at the jail where enforcement is safer for everyone involved.”
Of the 200 arrested, 50 had been deported in the past but had again illegally re-entered the country, 50 of the illegal aliens taken into custody had previous criminal convictions and 40 had pending criminal charges against them.
The North Carolinians For Immigration Reform and Enforcement (NCFIRE) has recorded sexual assault arrests of illegal aliens in the state going back to 2014. In 2018 alone, NCFIRE reported 215 illegal aliens were arrested and on over 740 charges.
In addition to often violent crimes being committed by illegal aliens, illegal immigration overall is costing North Carolina billions.
In 2017, the Federation for Immigration Reform reported that approximately 12.5 million illegal aliens and 4.2 million children of illegal aliens were costing taxpayers just under $135 billion a year. In the report, North Carolina taxpayers were estimated to be paying just under $2.5 billion a year, or $4,630 per illegal alien which translates to well over half a million illegal aliens in the state.
Numbers released in 2017 ranked North Carolina number 7 in the nation for young illegal aliens in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with 27,385 approved applications.
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A.P. Dillon is the North Carolina Bureau Chief for The Tennesee Star and a reporter at Battleground State News. Follow A.P. Dillon on Twitter. Email Tips to [email protected].
Image “Sheriff Quentin Miller” by Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.