North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) has joined the “sanctuary city” debate.  He vetoed House Bill 370, “An Act to Require Compliance with Immigration Detainers and Administrative Warrants,” on August 21, 2019.

Some county sheriffs in North Carolina have been refusing to uphold ICE detainers or coordinate with ICE regarding individuals in custody.  They argue that it is their job to enforce and comply with applicable state and federal laws, not to enforce immigration laws.  This led ICE spokesman, Bryan Cox, to remark that “as a direct result of this policy, persons [in the affected counties] will see an increased presence of ICE.”  In other words, without the sheriffs’ cooperation, ICE will conduct more enforcement actions in local neighborhoods and at work sites.  This is not an empty threat.  Since 2017, sanctuary jurisdictions have been targeted for ICE raids, “shame and blame” report listings and threats of withholding federal DOJ grants.

In response to the sheriffs’ actions, North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 370.  Under the bill:

  • Confinement facilities would have to comply with all federal detainers and administrative warrants;
  • Sheriffs could be removed from office for non-compliance;
  • Confinement facilities would have to submit annual reports regarding compliance with ICE detainers; and
  • Those in charge of confinement facilities would need to investigate the legal status of any person in their custody charged with a criminal offense and query ICE if they are unable to determine the individual’s legal status.

Governor Cooper, in his veto message, stated:

“This legislation is simply about scoring political points and using fear to divide North Carolina.  As the former top law enforcement of our state (Cooper is the former four-term Attorney General of the state), I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status.  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 counties.”

President Donald Trump reacted to the veto in a tweet:

“North Carolina Governor Cooper Vetoed a Bill that would have required Sheriffs to cooperate with ICE.  This is a terrible decision for the great people of North Carolina.  He should reverse his decision and get back to the basics of fighting crime!”

To date, at least seven states including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and Texas have been involved in legislation and litigation over sanctuary policies.  With House Bill 370 and Governor Cooper’s veto, North Carolina now joins that company.  Both Governor Cooper and President Trump will be on the ballot seeking re-election to their respective offices in 2020.

 

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.