North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a bill on Wednesday which would require local police to check the federal immigration database after arresting someone. If the name came up in the database, police would be forced to hold the person on a detainer for up to 48 hours.
The bill, called “An Act to Require Compliance with Immigration Detainers and Administrative Warrants,” passed the North Carolina House 62-53 on Tuesday before being sent to Cooper. The bill was reportedly drafted to deal with Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker and Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead, who both said they would not cooperate with ICE.
“We want to make it so that the Wake County Sheriff’s Office treats everybody the same and improves the quality of life for each and every person,” Baker said in December. “It’s about humanity. It’s about just caring for people. That’s a large part of what this office will be doing, moving forward.”
Republicans pushing for the bill also reportedly cited the case of Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, an undocumented immigrant who was charged with rape but released on a $100,000 bond. ICE claimed Garry McFadden, sheriff of Mecklenburg County, didn’t inform them that Pacheco-Leonardo had been released.
State Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) described the bill as “draconian,” saying that it would be unconstitutional for the police to hold Leonardo for longer than the court ordered. Luckily for Democratic state legislators, Cooper stepped in. In a statement, Cooper slammed the bill, saying that it was “simply about scoring partisan points and using fear to divide North Carolina.”
Cooper went on to say that the “bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs do the job of federal agents.”
“Finally, to elevate their partisan political pandering, the legislature has made a sheriff’s violation of this new immigration duty as the only specifically named duty violation that can result in a sheriff’s removal from office,” he said.
[Photo via Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]