North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have required sheriffs in the state to work closely with federal immigration officials seeking to identify undocumented immigrants.
HB 370 cleared the state Senate in June, and the state House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday. Among other things, the measure would have directed authorities to determine the legal status of anyone taken into custody for a criminal offense. If a prisoner’s citizenship or legal status could not be determined, authorities would be required to tell Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security.
Under the bill, state authorities also would have been required to comply with ICE and DHS requests to interview prisoners. Sheriffs or police officers who failed to do so could have been removed from office.
Cooper on Wednesday called the legislation “unconstitutional” and evidence of “partisan political pandering.”
“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,” Cooper said in a statement posted to his Twitter account.
Cooper’s veto comes two months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a similar bill prohibiting local governments from enacting “sanctuary” polices and requiring state law enforcement agencies to comply with ICE.
“Sanctuary cities basically create law-free zones where people can come to our state illegally and our country illegally, commit criminal offenses and then just walk right out the door and continue to do it,” DeSantis said at the time. “In Florida, that will not happen.”
DeSantis’s remarks roughly echoed the sentiments of President Donald Trump and other critics who say sanctuary cities endanger public safety.
The term “sanctuary city” has been defined in various ways but generally refers to jurisdictions that limit their compliance with federal immigration authorities in order to foster trust between residents and law enforcement, thus keeping communities safer. Some sanctuary cities bar local police officers from asking about immigration status, while others have refused to turn over undocumented immigrants being held in local jails to federal officials.