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North Carolina Governor Vetoes Bill Compelling Sheriffs To Cooperate With ICE

August 21, 2019 by Dan McCue
Immigration agents will target Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco. (John Moore/Getty Images/TNS) **FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY*

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have required the state’s sheriffs to honor detention requests from federal immigration standards.

The veto came a day after the Republican-controlled North Carolina House voted along party lines to approve the measure mandating cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The bill was approved by the GOP-controlled state Senate in June.

In a statement, Cooper said the bill was merely at attempt by the Republicans to score partisan political points and to use fear to divide the state’s residents.

 “As the former top law enforcement officer of our state, I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status,” Cooper said. “This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties.

“Finally, to elevate their partisan political pandering, the legislature has made a sheriff’s violation of this new immigration duty as the only specifically named duty violation that can result in a sheriff’s removal from office,” the governor added.

Republican lawmakers immediately struck back, accusing Cooper of caring more about the rights of people in the country illegally than the safety of North Carolinians.

They cited the case of a violent criminal who was arrested in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, released after posting bond, and later recaptured by ICE.

“Instead of signing this common sense bill, Governor Cooper is choosing to side with sheriffs like the Mecklenburg County Sheriff who in June ignored an ICE detainer request on a man in custody for rape and child sex offense charges and released this dangerous individual back into the community,” said State Senator Chuck Edwards.

He continued: “Law enforcement officers have a sworn responsibility to protect their citizens and that includes cooperating with federal authorities.”

While passions surrounding the bill are high, it’s unclear whether Republican lawmakers will attempt to override Cooper’s veto. They would need Democratic votes to do so, but so far, they appear united in their opposition to the legislation.

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