Controversial bill requiring sheriffs to cooperate with ICE hits a snag in NC House

Published May 16, 2024

By Ahmed Jallow

On Wednesday, the North Carolina House rejected the Senate version of House Bill 10, a controversial measure that requires cooperation between all North Carolina sheriffs and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

The House took issue with an amendment on the proposed bill that would have allowed anyone to file a complaint with the state attorney general if a sheriff fails to comply with the potential law.  

“We’re working on the language on this. We need to do that through a conference report, of course, because we can’t amend it the way it is right now,” said primary sponsor Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell). 

Hall said he expects to take up a conference report next week with the amended language. “So with that, I’d ask you to not concur with the changes of the Senate.” 

“I’d just like to say this time we’re on the same side of the vote on this – not to concur,” said Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) to Hall, in a rare show of bipartisanship. 

“I am concerned about the provision where any citizen can report to the attorney general and sue a sheriff, which I think we really need to rework in the conference committee. So, I appreciate that.” 

The House voted 108-3, in what some immigrant rights advocates see as a win, albeit a small one. 

“HB10 does not move to the Governor today. Our efforts have paid off, our community has called, emailed, shown up to offices, spoken out in committees and in rallies, to show our lawmakers that HB10 is a threat to our families and our state’s economy,” said a statement released by the immigrant advocacy group El Pueblo.  

North Carolina sheriffs are already required under current state law to try and determine the legal status of people they arrest and inform ICE. However, current law doesn’t require them to honor ICE detainer requests, which ask local authorities to hold someone believed to be in the country illegally for up to 48 hours while federal agents pick them up. 

But if this bill becomes law, it will require all 100 sheriffs in the state to notify ICE if they are unable to determine the legal status of a person charged with certain high-level offenses. It would compel sheriffs to honor ICE requests to detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally for up to 48 hours. 

“The lawmakers that have been pushing HB10 forward have claimed that it will improve the safety of our state and only target those who have committed crimes, but we know that in practice, bills like these target Black and Brown, immigrant communities, unnecessarily placing innocent lives at risk for deportation and separating hardworking families for minor incidents such as traffic violations, ” said Iliana Santillan, executive director of El Pueblo. “What happened today is the result of the efforts of our community. We have to keep up the pressure, we are going to keep pushing for HB10 not to become law.”