Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has introduced legislation aimed at pressuring local sheriffs to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers by allowing civil action from crime victims -- or the loss of federal grants -- if they don’t.
Tillis says the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act unveiled Tuesday is in direct response to several North Carolina sheriffs elected last November -- including Mecklenburg County’s Gary McFadden, who no longer honor requests from ICE to detain individuals nor participate in the federal 287 (g) program, which allows local deputies to enforce federal immigration law.
In a statement Wednesday, McFadden said the bill erodes the authority of sheriffs by bullying them into cooperating with ICE and that it would not enhance public safety as Tillis claims.
"The proposed legislation would strip the ability of states and local communities to establish their own public safety policies within their respective jurisdictions," McFadden said in his statement. "Sen. Tillis claims this is 'commonsense legislation that will enhance public safety and hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for their refusal to cooperate with federal law enforcement.' Where is the concerted effort to hold the federal government accountable for its own significant immigration law failures?"
On the state level, two slightly different versions of a bill forcing sheriffs to work with ICE have passed the North Carolina House and Senate. Gov. Roy Cooper has said the bill is unconstitutional.