'Disappointing:' Immigration advocates react to bill that would force sheriffs to work with ICE

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A bill passed the state house that would force local sheriff's department to cooperate with ICE.

House Bill 370, co-sponsored by Speaker Tim Moore, would require sheriffs across the state to honor requests from the federal government for undocumented immigrants who are already under arrest and charged with a crime.

The North Carolina Sheriff's Association -- an organization of sheriffs from all 100 counties -- said that while it is opposed to illegal immigration, "Edition 1 of House Bill 370 is not the appropriate method to address this very important issue."

"The fact that we have these sheriffs that are now responding to that is something that's very encouraging," said Will Saenz, of El Pueblo, which advocates for the Latin American community in Wake County. "It's disappointing every time you see some kind of anti-immigration legislation especially when it has a direct target with the pro-immigrant sheriffs."

Speaker Moore said he co-sponsored the legislation to "protect law-abiding North Carolinians who face enforcement of state and federal law."

El Pueblo said they believe this political battle has been building since a wave of progressive sheriffs were elected across the area in November.

Some like Gerald Baker, sheriff of Wake County, structured campaigns around building trust between the Latino community and the authorities.

Sheriff Baker pulled the county out of 287G program, which allowed local law enforcement to act on behalf of ICE.

El Pueblo said the variety of ICE raids across the state came after that and they believe the bill is in direct response to November's election.

The bill will still have to go through the Senate, and Gov. Roy Cooper's desk, where it's likely he would veto it.
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