RALEIGH – The North Carolina House of Representatives today approved a bill that would force all North Carolina county sheriffs to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detaining and deporting community members or face fines of up to $25,000 a day. 

House Bill 370 would require county jails to comply with a “request, approval, or other instruction” from federal immigration officers to hold someone in jail, even if they are eligible for release under North Carolina law. So-called “ICE detainer requests” often lack probable cause and can lead to the prolonged detention of people without a court order, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is opposed to the bill. 

“Sheriffs across North Carolina have rejected ICE’s deportation agenda because they know that it creates fear and mistrust in our communities and harms public safety,” said Susanna Birdsong, Senior Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “Legislators should support the decisions of local law enforcement leaders and respect the will of the voters who elected them – not rush to pass another law that targets immigrants and wastes taxpayer resources.” 

Last year, voters in North Carolina’s two largest counties – Mecklenburg and Wake – elected sheriffs who campaigned on promises, now fulfilled, to end their county’s involvement in the federal 287(g) program, a partnership with federal immigration officers that has led to the deportation of thousands from North Carolina. Newly elected sheriffs in Buncombe, Forsyth, and Durham counties have also announced that they will no longer hold people in jail on ICE detainer requests. 

“This retaliatory measure will spread more fear across our communities, tear apart families, and force local governments to divert resources to help the Trump administration’s deportation pipeline,” said Stefania Arteaga, Statewide Immigrants’ Rights Organizer for the ACLU of North Carolina. “If H.B. 370 reaches Governor Cooper’s desk, we urge him to stand up for voters, community members, and local law enforcement by vetoing this dangerous bill.”