A Republican state senator from Western North Carolina is proposing a measure that would force local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Hendersonville Republican Chuck Edwards unveiled Senate Bill 101 last week -- he calls it “Require Cooperation With ICE 2.0.” It’s essentially a revamped version of a similar house proposal that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed in 2019. Edwards says this time is different.
"By and large, the folks in my district and in North Carolina insist that we’re a land of laws and a sheriff can’t go out and decide which laws they’re going to enforce and which laws that they’re not," Edwards said.
That’s a jab at Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller, who has spoken out against agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, called 287(g), and he has refused to comply. Sheriff Miller and immigration advocates say those agreements actually make communities less safe because they sow distrust in local law enforcement.
"One of the things that occurs when law enforcement collaborates with ICE is that you see fear in the community, in terms of distrusting law enforcement, not feeling like they’re able to report crime or seek services," Stefania Arteaga, acting regional immigrants' rights strategist for the ACLU, said.
Edwards’ proposal would require sheriffs offices to annually report to the general assembly how many ICE detainer requests were issued by their departments. Henderson County’s Sheriff is currently the only department in Western North Carolina that participates in the 287(g) program. The county also has a higher Hispanic/Latinx population per capita than Buncombe County.