RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Between the chants of "yes we can" outside the Executive Mansion on Wednesday night, relief was heard in the voice of 13-year old Uriel Rodriguez. He said he was anxious this morning when he went off to summer camp -- but returned home to welcome news.
"My mom told me that the bill was vetoed by the governor and my heart kind of calmed down," Uriel said.
The teen was one of a few dozen activists, immigrants, and undocumented families rallying in celebration of Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of House Bill 370.
It's a Republican-backed measure that would allow local sheriffs to be removed from office if they fail to comply with ICE detainers on residents in the country illegally.
Though Uriel is a U.S. citizen born and raised in Raleigh, his mom and dad are both from Mexico. And both are undocumented.
"One of the main sponsors of the bill said it would protect all citizens. I didn't feel protected even though I'm a citizen," he said. "Because even though it's supposed to protect citizens, it's not protecting us because we could lose our parents."
Cooper said the bill is aimed at creating fear and division. In a statement, Cooper insisted laws on the books "already allow prosecution of dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status."
GOP REPONSE TO COOPER VETO
Republicans blasted Cooper's veto.
State Rep. Dan Caldwell called Cooper "a sanctuary governor." Rep. Brendan Jones said Cooper "sided with illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes over the citizens of North Carolina."
And Sen. Chuck Edwards said Cooper is "more concerned with protecting the rights of people in the country illegally that he is about protecting the safety of our communities and citizens."
CLIMATE OF FEAR
Back at the mansion, HB 370 was just one of the concerns raising alarm in this community.
With the start of school next week, advocates are sending alerts to immigrant parents reminding families of their rights to enroll their kids in school, regardless of immigration status.
We also asked about a concern that came up during last night's Raleigh mayoral debate regarding reports of some tow-truck drivers targeting local immigrant communities.
Angeline Echeverria, executive director of El Pueblo Inc. told us that while she isn't aware of any specific reports about towing companies -- more general concerns about scams targeting immigrant communities are not new.
"It's been documented that people go after specifically undocumented immigrants because of the way our elected officials talk about them -- as not being valuable or not being protected," Echeverria said.
El Pueblo is also urging immigrants-rights supporters to keep the pressure on local lawmakers at the Legislature to sustain Governor Cooper's veto.
After a tight party-line vote for final passage of HB 370, Republicans, currently, do not have the votes for an override.