NORTH CAROLINA -- One North Carolina senator is backing a bill aimed at making communities think twice before adopting so-called "sanctuary city" policies and practices.
- Communities with those sorts of policies would be barred from receiving certain federal grants for public works projects.
- A handful of newly-elected North Carolina sheriffs have announced in recent months that they are cutting off collaboration with ICE.
- If the bill makes it through the Senate it is likely to face stiff opposition in the Democrat-led House.
Under the legislation, communities with those sorts of policies would be barred from receiving certain federal grants for public works projects. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
“If there is clear evidence that we’re not having cooperation, then the local agencies need to recognize there’s going to be a consequence for them,” Tillis said.
While North Carolina state law currently bans sanctuary cities, a handful of newly-elected North Carolina sheriffs have announced in recent months that they are cutting off collaboration with ICE. Several of those sheriffs argue they are looking out for what is best for their own communities.
In Mecklenburg County, the sheriff’s decision to not cooperate with ICE detainers led to a public spat last week between the sheriff and the local U.S. Attorney. The U.S. Attorney argued that not enforcing the detainers puts public safety at risk.
Under the proposed bill, Tillis says Mecklenburg’s practice of not honoring the detainers “could be at the expense of transportation dollars they would otherwise be qualified for from the federal level.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Mecklenburg County argued that the bill would not likely impact the Charlotte area, writing in part, “The Sheriff‘s position with regard to voluntary ICE detainers and 287(g) is not mandated by the County, but rather is based upon his personal beliefs regarding the best interests of the citizens of Mecklenburg County.”
The Durham sheriff, who also does not honor ICE detainers, declined to comment on the Tillis-backed legislation. But speaking to Spectrum News last month, Sheriff Clarence Birkhead did defend his decision to not cooperate with ICE on detainers, saying he wants to establish trust with the Latino community.
“We want to build a community that is welcoming, open, and affirming of all persons regardless of their immigration status, their ethnicities, their sexual orientation," he said on May 3. "That's the only way we can collectively work to combat crime.”
The Tillis-backed bill is still in its earliest stages. If it makes it through the Senate it is likely to face stiff opposition in the Democrat-led House. Similar legislation has failed in the Senate previously.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the proposed bill. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office did not return a request for comment.