RALEIGH, N.C. - A broad coalition of immigrants’ rights organizations condemns yesterday’s introduction of Senate Bill 101 (SB 101) at the North Carolina General Assembly. The proposed legislation appears to be a copycat of HB 370, a failed 2019 bill that would have required local sheriff officers to interrogate individuals about their immigration status and assist federal agents in detentions and deportations. Gov. Cooper vetoed HB 370 in August 2019, and it did not become law. Advocates call on legislators to advance inclusive policies that keep our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, not harmful anti-immigrant proposals that create fear.
“This bill would harm North Carolinians by placing public health and safety at risk during a pandemic, harming struggling essential businesses, and spreading fear within immigrant communities,” said Nayeli Garcia, Community Leader at El Pueblo. “Now more than ever, lawmakers need to put public health at the forefront of policy decisions.”
People in North Carolina detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are often held in regional detention centers such as the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. Centers like Stewart Detention Center are notorious for having poor conditions and lacking basic healthcare to protect the people detained there.
“Under this law, more North Carolinians will be held in unsafe conditions at a time when jails and detention centers are a hub for COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Stefania Arteaga, Acting Regional Immigrants' Rights Strategist for the ACLU of North Carolina. “The spread of the virus will only increase with more people in crowded jails and detention centers, potentially affecting staff, their families, and by extension, all of North Carolina. This legislation would not make our communities safer. It would put them in danger.”
The coalition of advocacy and community organizations steadfastly opposes all efforts that force local sheriff’s offices to cooperate with ICE. Many sheriffs across the state have already taken steps to distance their offices from ICE.
“Our communities are stronger when we stand together,” said Sandro Mendoza of Acción Política Latina. “We deserve better from our legislature than these hateful proposals which would harm our families and our neighbors.”
SB 101 appears to be a retaliatory effort aimed at rolling back local policies that recognize the dignity of everyone in our communities, including immigrants. The coalition urges all elected officials to stand against any legislation that would lead to thousands more deportations and force collaboration between sheriffs' departments across North Carolina and ICE.
The organizations within the coalition voicing opposition to SB 101 include:
Acción Política Latina
ACLU of North Carolina
Always Ready 2 Fight (ARF) Reentry Resources
Asociación Dominicana de Raleigh (ADORA)
Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, Inc. (AMEXCAN)
Carolina Migrant Network
Comite de Accion Popular
Comité Popular Somos Raleigh
Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción
Comunidad Vida Nueva
El Colectivo NC
FaithAction International House
Fuerza y Unión Múltiple
Hendfact Henderson Fuerza Activa.
Hispanic Liaison / El Vínculo Hispano
Just Futures Law
Mujerxs Organizando Oportunidades Notables
NC Poor People's Campaign
North Carolina Asian Americans Together
Sheriffs for Trusting Communities
Voto Latino Chatham