March 15, 2017

RALEIGH — A North Carolina House committee today approved a constitutionally problematic bill that would limit due process rights for some immigrants and create new rules for the enforcement of state immigration laws.

Among its provisions, House Bill 63 would

  • Deny bail to undocumented immigrants for whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued a detainer, a detention practice that federal courts have found to violate basic due process protections under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Allow the state to withhold a range of tax revenues including funding for transportation and other critical projects from local governments that choose to limit their role in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
  • Allow anonymous tipsters to claim that a local government is violating immigration laws, compelling the Attorney General’s office to dedicate resources to an investigation.

American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina opposes the bill, which now heads to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee before heading to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

“These measures will encourage racial profiling and allow law enforcement to detain people indefinitely without probable cause – practices that would violate the Constitution and do nothing to make our communities safer,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “We urge lawmakers to reconsider this unconstitutional proposal before exposing the state to costly litigation in defense of a misguided law that will separate families and attack the civil liberties of immigrants and citizens alike. We are also deeply troubled by the parts of the bill that would create a costly, burdensome and unnecessary framework for enforcing immigration laws by encouraging anonymous tipsters to waste government resources in an attempt to target and single out undocumented North Carolinians who work, go to school, and contribute to our communities in countless ways.”

Normally, in order to deny bond and keep an individual imprisoned while he or she awaits trial, the state must show that the person is a flight risk or a danger to the public. H.B. 63 would remove that requirement and create a rebuttable presumption against bond for undocumented immigrants when accused of crimes as minor as a traffic offense or when ICE has issued a detainer against the person or has “indicated they will do so” - making it much more difficult for certain people to secure release when accused of a crime.

In February, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, citing the potential for litigation, issued a policy that Maricopa County jails will no longer hold individuals with an ICE detainer or facilitate transfer to ICE. This decision came after several cases challenged the constitutionality of holding individuals beyond when a person would have otherwise been released based on an ICE detainer.

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