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Edwards rips Cooper's veto of ICE bill

The political squabble continues in Raleigh over the Legislature's bill forcing sheriffs statewide to comply with federal with customs enforcement agents' detainer request.

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill on Wednesday, calling it an unconstitutional law born of "partisan political pandering." State Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Hendersonville Republican, fired off a news release that criticized Cooper for choosing "to pander to his far left supporters."

Cooper vetoed House Bill 370 Wednesday, Aug. 21, the day after it p

The bill, which passed the House in a party line vote 62-53 Tuesday, requires sheriffs to comply with detainers and administrative warrants issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The orders in question cover illegal immigrant inmates who have completed their sentences in city or county jails but also face a deportation order or are otherwise sought by federal authorities, the Carolina Journal News Service reported. Sheriffs in several of the state’s largest counties — including Wake, Mecklenburg, and Durham — vowed to stop cooperating with ICE, saying they they didn’t have the constitutional authority to hold an inmate who has completed his sentence unless a judge or magistrate orders the detention.

"This legislation, is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina," Cooper said in his veto message. "As the former top law enforcement officer of our state, I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status. This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties. 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."

The bill requires all North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when dealing with suspected illegal immigrants already in jail for committing other crimes that have detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Despite Gov. Cooper’s attempt to distract folks with reckless rhetoric and name calling, the message this veto sends is abundantly clear: He is more concerned about protecting the ‘rights’ of people in this country illegally who are in jail for committing crimes than he is about protecting the safety of our communities and the citizens that live in them," Edwards said.

"Instead of signing this common sense bill, Gov. Cooper is choosing to side with sheriffs like the Mecklenburg County Sheriff who in June ignored an ICE detainer request on a man in custody for rape and child sex offense charges and released this dangerous individual back into the community. Thankfully ICE tracked down this suspect earlier this month without further incident, but that won’t always be the case in these instances. Law enforcement officers have a sworn responsibility to protect their citizens and that includes cooperating with federal authorities. Unlike Gov. Cooper who prefers to pander to his far left supporters, we will protect North Carolinians and plan to override his irresponsible veto.”