More than a dozen North Carolina sheriffs have banned together with sheriffs from Arizona to Pennsylvania in opposition of a bipartisan Senate proposal to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
Sheriffs Terry Johnson of Alamance County, Eddie Cathy of Union County and David Carpenter of Lincoln County, among others, criticize what they consider a lack of border security. They say the proposal "tolerates both past and future criminal activities," according to a May 9 letter sent to Sens. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, and Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chip Bailey and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison are not among the list of sheriffs who signed the letter.
The May 9 letter, obtained by McClatchy, listed more than a dozen concerns with the proposed legislation.
"On the subjects of public safety, border security, and interior enforcement, this legislation fails," they write. "It is a dramatic step in the wrong direction."
The U.S. Senate began debate Thursday to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. The bipartisan proposal written by the so-called Gang of Eight provides a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people here illegally, but not until several border security measures are implemented.
The proposal has received wide support from immigrant rights groups, religious leaders, the business and labor communities, as well as many law enforcement groups. But opposition remains strong.
The North Carolina sheriffs have lined up behind a union for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who also signed the letter.
"We ... conclude that this legislation fails to meet the needs of the law enforcement community and would, in fact, be a significant barrier to the creation of a safe and lawful system of immigration."
Read the letters below.
Letter to Senator Burr 05-09-13.pdf
Letter to Senator Hagan 05-09-13.pdf