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Governor vetoes bill requiring sheriffs cooperate with ICE

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

This story was produced through a collaboration between WFAE and La Noticia. You can read it in Spanish at La Noticia. Puedes leer la nota en español en La Noticia.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed four bills Monday, including Senate Bill 101 — a measure that immigrant advocacy groups had labeled the “show me your papers” bill.

The bill would have obligated local law enforcement to consult with federal authorities over the immigration status of certain arrested people.

Cooper vetoed a similar measure in 2019. He described the latest version of the bill as an effort to score political points and use fear to divide North Carolinians.

"As the state’s former top law enforcement officer, I know that current law already allows the state to incarcerate and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status,” he said in a press release.

“This bill is unconstitutional and weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating that sheriffs do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties."

Stefania Arteaga with the ACLU of North Carolina said immigration advocates were pleased to see the governor veto the bill.

“It has been very difficult, especially hearing the anti-immigrant rhetoric that's coming from bill sponsors and false narrative about immigrant communities,” Arteaga said. “But I think what this veto shows is the power of community. We've seen community members across the state of North Carolina taking action and calling their representatives.”

Supporters of the bill argued it was necessary to fight crime and strengthen efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Opponents warned it could hurt businesses that rely on the immigrant workforce and damage trust in law enforcement, said Yahel Flores with the American Business Immigration Coalition.

“Last week we were able to get 400 plus businesses, community leaders and advocates to sign a letter urging Governor Cooper to oppose this legislation,” Flores said. “It really hurts communities and it brings fear into a community that already has reservations when it comes to law enforcement.”

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden also opposed the bill, saying the legislation would place a financial burden on local jails.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.