We contacted all 50 members of the North Carolina Senate about their opinions on HB10. We asked what impact they thought the bill would have on public safety and the relationship between law enforcement and immigrant communities.
We received written responses from nine of them — eight Democrats and one Republican.
Segments from Democratic Senator Jay Chaudhuri, who asked to speak by phone, can be heard here.
Senator Gale Adcock, Democrat, District 16
H10 has not moved in the Senate since it passed the House on 3/29. I’m unaware of plans for it to advance. To get other senators’ thoughts on this controversial bill, the reporters need to touch base with them. I will make a decision on the final version of the bill if/when it makes it to the Senate floor.
Senator Val Applewhite, Democrat, District 19
Let’s start with the easy part, no — I will not support HB-10. My understanding is that similar legislation has previously made its way through the NCGA but was vetoed by Governor Cooper. As you are aware, we no longer have the votes in the Senate or House to sustain his veto. Unfortunately, this bill could very well become law.
This legislation does absolutely nothing to make our community safer and undermines the authority that sheriffs have as duly elected officials. Many sheriffs across the state are in opposition to this legislation and fear the exact problem in the question you have asked, that it will erode the trust that so many law enforcement agencies are trying to build. Let me add another perspective, the issue of racial profiling is real; I think this bill has the potential to further exasperate this problem.
I am a Black woman and as I read through the bill, I was reminded of the role of the slave catcher and slave patrols. This was one of the earliest forms of American policing created with the sole purpose of establishing a system of terror that was used to pursue, apprehend, and return slaves to their owners. HB10 is nothing more than a modern-day example that will cause fear and trauma in our immigrant community.
Senator Danny Earl Britt, Jr., Republican, District 24
I SUPPORT THE RULE OF LAW AND WILL DO ALL I CAN TO PROTECT THE CITIZENS OF NC.
Do you think mandatory cooperation between ICE and North Carolina sheriffs will make communities more or less safe? MORE SAFE BY KEEPING VIOLENT OFFENDERS LOCKED AWAY
Do you think this bill could impact the relationship between immigrant communities and law enforcement? NO, BECAUSE I HAVE WORKED IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND I UNDERSTAND THE REALITIES NOT THE MYTHS PROMOTED BY LIBERAL MEDIA
Senator Lisa Grafstein, Democrat, District 13
I oppose the bill, primarily because I believe local sheriffs should be able to prioritize their work and how they spend their limited funds. Some have made the decision, based on their law enforcement experience, that being seen as part of ICE is harmful to their relationship with immigrant communities and interferes with their ability to build trust. They have to maintain community relationships to keep people safe and enable victims or witnesses to report crimes. And of course, sheriffs have to make budgeting decisions and identify their priorities based on the communities they serve. HB10 would interfere with that important decision-making.
I am opposed to HB10 and the previous bills like it. I voted against those and will vote against this one too, if it comes up for a vote.
Senator Julie Mayfield, Democrat, District 49
I oppose this bill for a host of reasons but the main one is because my sheriff, Quentin Miller, opposes it. I trust him to know what works best to keep everyone in our community safe, and his opposition translates into my opposition. I believe his main reason for that is because he believes it will discourage undocumented residents from calling law enforcement when they need help – this could be in cases of domestic violence, assault, robbery, and other crimes. If people are worried about the negative consequences of reaching out to law enforcement, then they won’t reach out for help, and criminal activity goes unpunished and unchecked. That, in turn, makes our community less safe.
Senator Graig Meyer, Democrat, District 23
I am opposed to HB10 and will vote against it should it come before us in the Senate. The bill would damage local safety by making immigrant communities less likely to interact with local law enforcement. When people feel they cannot call the cops, we all end up in a more dangerous place.
Senator Gladys A. Robinson, Democrat, District 28
This is an area of which I am extremely concerned. Many years ago, Faith Action in Greensboro implemented an ID card and program to be issued to immigrants that did not have driver’s licenses or government-issued IDs. This program that began in Guilford was also adopted by Alamance, Forsyth and counties with the support of sheriffs. The goal is that immigrants would have IDs for employment, etc., but mostly for protection if they were stopped by law enforcement. Since then, there has been broader cooperation and support efforts between immigrant communities and law enforcement. This of course allowed protection for those who abided by the law, and helped to identify those immigrants who are threats.
My opinion is that HB10 is designed to erode the cooperation between sheriffs and immigrant communities. It is not and should not be the responsibility of sheriffs to do the work of ICE, that is the responsibility of the federal government to identify and arrest those who are threats to our communities and government.