The Pulse

Legislature sends immigration bill to Cooper; scores of nonprofits and businesses call for veto

By: - August 20, 2019 4:27 pm

The state House of Representatives gave final approval this afternoon to legislation that would force local sheriffs to hold individuals that they would otherwise release, based on “detainer” requests from federal immigration officials. The House vote was 62-53.

Proponents say the bill is necessary to aid law enforcement in protecting public safety, but opponents have argued forcefully that it will have the opposite effect. After the bill passed the ACLU of North Carolina released a statement calling on Gov. Cooper to veto the measure accompanied by endorsements from scores of national and state-level nonprofits and state-based businesses.

RALEIGH – More than 70 national organizations, 40 North Carolina groups, and 80 North Carolina businesses are urging Governor Roy Cooper to veto a bill that would force all North Carolina county sheriffs to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detaining and deporting community members or face removal from office.

In separate letters, the organizations say the bill would harm North Carolinians by spreading fear within immigrant communities, further accelerating the federal government’s deportation machine, and subverting the will of the voters.

House Bill 370, which has been approved by both chambers of the General Assembly, would require county jails to comply with a request from federal immigration officers to hold someone in jail, even if they are eligible for release under North Carolina law. So-called “ICE detainer requests” often lack probable cause and can lead to the prolonged detention of people without a court order, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

“By vetoing this brazen attack on North Carolina’s sheriffs and voters who have made it clear they do not want ICE terrorizing their communities, Governor Cooper can send an important message that he supports both local law enforcement and the rights of all communities,” said Susanna Birdsong, Senior Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, one of the groups urging Cooper to veto. “This dangerous bill strips local law enforcement of their ability to make decisions in the best interest of public safety, forcing every county in North Carolina to divert resources to do the bidding of President Trump’s deportation force whether they want to or not. Governor Cooper should put a stop to this extreme agenda, stand up for local law enforcement, and veto this bill without delay.”

In a separate letter to Cooper, the ACLU of North Carolina explained the constitutional concerns with requiring sheriffs to unconditionally comply with all detainer requests received from ICE, whose history presents a troubling pattern of illegal arrests.

Last year, voters in North Carolina’s two largest counties – Mecklenburg and Wake – elected sheriffs who campaigned on promises, now fulfilled, to end their involvement in the federal 287(g) program, a partnership with federal immigration officers that has led to the deportation of thousands from North Carolina. Newly elected sheriffs in Buncombe, Forsyth, Guilford, and Durham counties have also announced that they will no longer hold people in jail on ICE detainer requests.

“If Governor Cooper allows this anti-immigrant bill to become law, it will spread more fear across our communities, tear apart families, and force local governments to divert resources to fuel the Trump administration’s deportation pipeline,” said Martha Hernandez, community organizer with Comite de Accion Popular. “It’s important that our state’s highest elected official take a stand for the rights of North Carolina communities and against this extreme anti-immigrant political agenda.”

The full list of groups signing each letter is:

State Organizations:

ACLU of North Carolina

Burgos Chala Law

Campaign for Southern Equality

Carolina Jews for Justice

Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA)

Comunidad Colectiva

Down Home North Carolina

Durham Association of Educators

Durham for All

Durham People’s Alliance

El Colectivo NC

El Pueblo

Guilford County Association of Educators

FaithAction International House

Faith In Public Life

El Puente Hispano

Enlace NC

Equality NC

Just Futures Law

Latin American Coalition

Latino Community Coalition of Guildford

Movement to end Racism and Islamophobia

Muslim Women For

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

NextGen North Carolina

North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Education Fund

North Carolina State AFL-CIO

North Carolina Asian Americans Together

North Carolina Council of Churches

NC Child, North Carolina Justice Center

Planned Parenthood of the Southeast

Raleigh Police Accountability Community Taskforce (PACT)

Siembra NC

Southeast Asian Coalition

SPLC Action Fund

Triangle Interfaith Advocates for Refugees and Immigrants (TIARI)

True Ridge

YWCA of Asheville

YWCA of High Point


National Organizations:

Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

Alianza Americas

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

America’s Voice

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Church World Service (CWS)

Color Of Change

Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

CREDO Action

Detention Watch Network

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

Faith in Action

Freedom for Immigrants

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

Hispanic Federation

Hispanics in Philanthropy

Immigrant Defense Project (IDP)

Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)

International Association of Bridge, Structural Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers

Jobs With Justice Education Fund

Justice Strategies

Latino Commission on AIDS

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Mi Familia Vota



National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc.

National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives

National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)

National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)

National Employment Law Project

National Hispanic Medical Association

Hispanic National Bar Association

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG)

National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)

National Latinx Psychological Association

People’s Action

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)


United We Dream (UWD)

United States Hispanic Leadership Institute

Veterans for American Ideals

Voto Latino

Regional and State Organizations

Allies of Knoxville’s Immigrant Neighbors, KY

Adelante Alabama Worker Center, AL

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, GA

Catholic Charities of Raleigh, NC

Carolina Jews for Justice, Durham, NC

Charlotte Women’s March, Charlotte, NC

Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Accion, Asheville, NC

Comunidades Unidas en una Voz, Memphis, TN

Deportation Defense Legal Network, KS

Durham for All Action, Durham, NC

Florida Immigration Coalition, FL

Friends of Broward Detainees, FL

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, GA

Hispanic Liaison, Siler City, NC

Mercy Associates, Pineville, NC

Mi Casa Community Services, Winston-Salem, NC

Mi Maletin, Durham, NC

New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, NM

North Alabama Hispanic Coalition, Russellville, AL

North Carolina State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations


Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, PA

Sisters of Mercy, Belmont, NC

Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, Southeast region

Student Action with Farmworkers, Durham, NC

WeCount!, Homestead, FL



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Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield

Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors regular commentaries, and hosts a weekly radio show/podcast.