North Carolina House Bill 370 cleared the state Senate Monday night. It requires that law enforcement check everyone they arrest in the federal immigration database and, if they’re flagged, hold them on detainer for up to 48 hours.
“If you were in our situation, would you like to your children to be taken away from you?” an immigration advocate said.
Immigrants, activists and legislators came together outside the General Assembly. They called on senators to vote no on HB370.
“This is the first administration to target crime victims with deportation and detention,” a victims rights advocate said.
The bill is a response to newly elected sheriffs, including right here in Wake and Durham counties who vowed not to cooperate with ICE.
In response, Republican lawmakers are trying to force their hands. If they don’t cooperate, the bill would allow law enforcement to be removed from office.
“This guy that they tell you is a really bad guy, he’s committed crimes all across the country. He’s on our list and we want you to hold him for 48 hours,” Senator Harry Brown, (R) Onslow said.
“We need to think about what we’re doing and the image that we’re creating for this state,” Senator Floyd McKissick, (D) Durham said.
The debate lasted almost two hours.
“This bill is not directed at witnesses or victims,” Senator Chuck Edwards, (R) Henderson.
“We know that our communities are safer when they trust their local law enforcement,” Jay Chaudhuri, (D) Wake County.
Among those in the gallery, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.
“Well, my oath of office says that I enforce the law of the state of North Carolina and the United States of America. So if it becomes law we will uphold the law,”
The Governor responded late Monday. He called the bill unconstitutional and said it was “using fear to divide us.”
The bill will first head to the House before going to the Governor. Speaker Tim Moore said it would be brought to the floor either this week or next.