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Cooper vetoes latest version of controversial immigration proposal

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the “ICE 2.0” bill Monday afternoon, a Republican-backed measure that would have required sheriffs’ offices across the state to hold people accused of certain serious crimes in jail for up to 48 hours after they would have been released so that they can be taken into custody by federal immigration officials.

“This law is only about scoring political points and using fear to divide North Carolinians,” Cooper said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Advocacy organizations like the ACLU of North Carolina had called on the governor to veto the bill after legislators sent it to his desk on July 1. They warned that the new policy could force jailers to incarcerate people without probable cause, violating people’s Fourth Amendment rights. They also claimed the proposal would sow distrust and fear among immigrant communities, fraying ties with local law enforcement.

Democrats spoke out against the bill when it was in committee, worrying it would add financial burdens to already under-resourced local jails. Republicans, meanwhile, framed the proposal as a public safety issue. Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Buncombe) was unable to say how much it would cost counties to comply with the federal detainer requests — “There’s not been a study on what the costs are,” he said on the Senate floor —  but, whatever it is, it’s “incidental to the potential danger in our communities.”

Legislators passed a similar bill in 2019. Cooper vetoed that one, too.

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Cooper vetoes latest version of controversial immigration proposal