“STOP the anti-immigrant bill, HB 10.” 

When I opened my inbox the above subject line repopulated hundreds of times. It piqued my interest, so I read a little further. The email continued with the assertion that:  

“This bill will make immigrants in our community feel unsafe and cause detrimental economic impacts on our state. We know that when ICE and local law enforcement collaborate, our communities are less safe. Vote NO on this bill. Thank you.”

To be honest, I was a little surprised at the email’s lack of substance. Clearly, there was no justification for the idea that the HB 10 is an unjust bill or that it is “anti-immigrant.” A reading of this bill will reveal what it accomplishes. Specifically, the bill requires that if a law enforcement agency performs an arrest and discovers that the suspect is in the country illegally and has an Immigration and Customers Enforcement detainer, then the agency must hold that suspect for at least 48 hours.

I feel this is reasonable and important for several different reasons. 

First, I believe this cooperation is critical because now more than ever North Carolinians are being killed by Chinese fentanyl being carried across the border by illegal immigrants. In just a few years, the average fentanyl overdose rate went from 3,000 people per year to almost 12,000 per year. The ICE detainers can and have helped our agencies identify and detain key drug traffickers before they are released into the population and continue with their illicit trades. 

Second, North Carolina is the ninth largest state in our nation in terms of population and also the eighth largest in our nation for illegal human trafficking (modern-day slavery), specifically in the labor and sex markets. Once again, ICE detainers can and have helped our agencies detain key sex traffickers. These detentions have led to the freedom of dozens of children and teenagers. 

Third, while 95% of our sheriffs already cooperate with ICE, our state’s three largest counties — Wake, Mecklenburg, and Guilford — do not. Having our most-populace counties not cooperating with any agency can attract nefarious behavior. I believe this is exactly what’s happening because those same three counties are also the top three counties for slave trafficking in our state. Clearly, that is unacceptable. 

Some fear that this bill would allowed biased law enforcement officials to discriminate against Hispanics or Latinos. I do not see the validity of that claim because it is clear that law enforcement can only detain an individual on behalf of ICE if the individual has a criminal record detainer. ICE does not conduct any detainers for anything other than serious criminal violations. As it stands, there is no empirical record that NC law agencies have unjustly targeted Hispanics for deportation. The statistics at the border show that a large part of our illegal alien population is from the Middle East and Asia. 

Additionally, I do not believe the Hispanic population has to be fearful of this bill because there is no language in this bill that will allow such discrimination. Also, our state has embraced body and dash cams in law enforcement. These devices have proved pivotal in capturing any poor conduct on the part of law enforcement officials. This too applies to any discrimination against our Hispanic community. 

Lastly, but most importantly, clearly the Hispanic community of North Carolina is the backbone of our agriculture industry, the heart and soul of our building industry, and the blood of our growing multiculturalism. North Carolina loves and needs our Hispanic residents. I believe most North Carolinians feel that same way, even if we have not done enough to show it.

I commit to doing whatever I can to help our law-abiding immigrants feel welcome in our country.  Furthermore, it is my aim to also utilize North Carolina’s resources to help migrants become citizens without the burdensome cost or administrative struggles of our broken system. While I cannot fix the federal immigration system for citizenship, we can provide a better pipeline and legal aid to help people know what to do, when to do it, and how it needs to be done.

I do not believe cooperating with federal immigration officials as they seek illegal immigrants who they believe have committed serious crimes — including human trafficking — should make our legal immigrant community feel unsafe. If anything, getting wanted criminals out of the community will likely make them feel safer.