Interfaith letter for Governor Cooper
HB 370 is a retaliatory anti-immigrant bill that has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly because newly elected progressive sheriffs have decided to end their voluntary collaboration with ICE.
We are reaching out to North Carolina clergy to sign-on to this letter asking Governor Cooper to veto this bill, or similar proposals in the future, as it is harmful to our immigrant community and to the progress the newly elected sheriffs have made.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Reverend Glencie Rhedrick,
Rabbi Judy Schindler,
Reverend Val Rosenquist,
The Honorable Roy Cooper
Governor of North Carolina
NC Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
Dear Governor Cooper,
As faith leaders, we have a moral responsibility to call out injustice when we see it. HB 370 is an anti-immigrant bill that would force all sheriffs in the state to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and detain immigrants beyond the legally allowable period under the law. Our various traditions command us to love our neighbors and welcome guests as a reflection of the higher power. We see our state sliding into a dangerous and disorienting period which threatens the notion that we are all siblings to one another. In disorienting times such as these, we return to the faith values which root all of our traditions: love, human dignity, compassion and justice.
The engine that has fueled ICE´s harm to communities and family separation in the past decade is the intersection of federal law enforcement with state and local enforcement. ICE relies heavily on local authorities, and up until recently Mecklenburg County, as well as Wake, Alamance, Cabarrus, and Henderson counties were major players.
Between October 2017 and May 2018 half of all arrests by ICE in the nation occurred in just 24 counties of the 3,200 counties in the United States. Mecklenburg County was most greatly impacted and this ICE focus will continue. Sheriff Garry McFadden is left with mending the damage to community trust caused by that activity.
HB 370 will cause a statewide alliance with ICE to be coded into law, and the effects will be devastating and long lasting. Fear and distrust of law enforcement caused by this policy will make North Carolina complicit to entire communities being made even more vulnerable to exploitation, wage theft, sexual assault, trafficking, and domestic violence.
Why is this bill so wrong?
-This bill forces sheriffs and magistrates to play an unprecedented role in federal immigration enforcement when ICE issues a voluntary detainer and administrative warrant for someone otherwise eligible for release from jail. This type of warrant allows arrest without evidence before a judge of the alleged crime. It extends the period to hold immigrants to 96 hours, twice as long as 48-hour ICE detainer requests. Detainer requests have led to the prolonged detention of thousands of people -- including hundreds of U.S. citizens and lawfully present immigrants -- without basic due process protections.
-This bill eliminates bare minimum protections for crime victims and witnesses. This is of particular concern for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence in our state. This creates mistrust of law enforcement harming community cohesion, civic engagement, and the overall well-being of immigrants and citizens alike.
-This bill allows for the REMOVAL of democratically elected sheriffs from office if they do not comply with the bill. This is a direct rebuke of voters in NC’s largest cities who asked their sheriffs to stop collaborating with ICE.
-HB 370 does not provide for any financial resources from the federal government to cover the costs that local governments and the court system will incur. The cost of this detention in our state will be substantial. NC taxpayers will bear that cost.
HB 370 is not a crime fighting tool. It is a measure motivated by perceptions about the relationship between immigration and racial/ethnic change and fears around those trends. Let us speak truthfully about this.
Time and again the evidence shows that immigrants bring economic growth and prosperity, and contribute positively to our state.
Our coalition of clergy and organizations request your veto of HB 370. Please stand united with us in support of our communities made of immigrants, people brought as slaves, and indigenous peoples that constitute our state and our nation.
Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice*
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