A bill introduced in the North Carolina legislature would require sheriffs to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of a move across the country by Republicans who want authorities at the state and local level to do more to arrest and deport illegal immigrants.
The bill would require sheriffs, when admitting any prisoner into their jails, to determine whether the prisoner is a legal resident of the U.S., and, if not, make contact with ICE.
Additionally, if ICE has issued a detainer, a notification to request that a prisoner be transferred into ICE custody upon release from jail, the sheriffs must honor the request under the proposed law.
The Carolina Journal reported that the bill was introduced to counter a number of sheriffs who have refused to cooperate with immigration enforcement.
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“It’s sad that this small number of woke sheriffs are actively choosing to place politics above public safety,” state Rep. Destin Hall told the outlet. “Cooperating with ICE about illegal aliens charged with serious crimes in our state should be common sense. Their decision to cut off communication with immigration officials only puts more innocent people and officers in harm’s way.”
Honoring detainers has become a major immigration issue amid the rise of “sanctuary” jurisdictions, which refuse to cooperate with ICE and specifically refuse to honor detainers.
ICE says it places detainers on those who have been arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are deportable under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and it does so to take custody of the immigrant in a safe setting.
But proponents of “sanctuary” jurisdictions say such laws allow illegal immigrants to get the services they need without fear and encourage them to cooperate with law enforcement on other matters without fearing deportation. Opponents say it allows for the release of criminals to the streets who would otherwise be removed from the country and also acts as a magnet for more illegal migration.
Sanctuary cities were the source of a divisive political debate in 2022, when Texas and Arizona began bussing migrants entering the country at the southern border into sanctuary cities like New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago.
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ICE has been the subject of a legal battle over the Biden administration’s narrowed enforcement priorities, which limit the agency to focusing on recent border, crosser, “aggravated felon” and national security threats.
The Biden administration has said the rules allow ICE to focus on more pressing threats to the American public given its limited resources. But Republicans pointed to a sharp drop in interior arrests and deportations, and states have sued over the priorities. A case is now being considered by the Supreme Court.
Separately, Republican senators have written to the Department of Homeland Security about the destinations cited by illegal immigrants who are being processed and released into the U.S. amid concerns that those sanctuary cities are driving the ongoing migrant crisis.
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“We are deeply concerned that sanctuary jurisdictions are serving as a pull factor for illegal immigrants and for criminal aliens. This failure to comply with federal law creates an incentive for illegal immigrants to travel to the United States and avoid accountability by moving to sanctuary jurisdictions,” they said.