CHARLOTTE — North Carolina’s previous governor, Republican Pat McCrory of Charlotte, said Gov. Roy Cooper and the mayors of the major cities of the state should be ashamed for ignoring how some sheriffs are endangering their residents by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
“Shame on our governor, shame on our mayor, shame on our county commission, shame on our city council,” McCrory said on his WBT radio show Aug. 16.
The former governor was reacting to a press release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement announcing the arrest of Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, a 33-year-old Honduran national, on Aug. 9 in Mecklenburg County. ICE apprehended Pacheco-Leonardo nearly two months after the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, led by Garry McFadden, ignored an ICE detainer and released him to the public.
Pacheco-Leonardo was charged with first-degree rape and two counts of indecent liberties with a child. He had been previously deported and illegally reentered the country.
ICE indicated that McFadden’s office didn’t even notify them before releasing a “serious public safety threat onto the streets of Charlotte where he was free to potentially harm others for nearly two months until his capture by ICE.”
McFadden responded in a press release of his own, saying “ICE chose to issue voluntary ICE administrative detainers on Pacheco-Leonardo, knowing that it is against MCSO’s policy to honor such detainers. Based upon Pacheco-Leonardo’s previous deportation, ICE could have but did NOT seek a criminal arrest warrant for Illegal Re-Entry.”
Gov. McCrory told NSJ he thinks McFadden is “splitting hairs” with his response.
“The silence from the governor and the mayors of Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte is deafening when it comes to sheriffs not cooperating with ICE officials with regard to extremely serious crimes including rape and offenses towards children,” McCrory told NSJ. “Liberals are all talk about the children in cages but what about the children being molested?”
Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) also expressed outrage following this revelation from ICE, tweeting on Aug. 16, “The North Carolina House will vote on H.B. 370 Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE Detainers – a bill supported by the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association – as early as next week to end this outrageous refusal to protect the public from wanted criminals.”
Moore made good on his threats and the House then voted 62-53 on Aug. 20 to concur with Senate changes to House Bill 370. It is likely to be vetoed by Cooper, who has publicly opposed the bill though, and it did not pass with enough votes to override Cooper’s action.
McCrory said he’s a “strong supporter” of the bill.
At times, McCrory believes the Republican legislature has not been strong enough on immigration. During his time as governor, he says they passed a bill that weakened e-verify, the federal employment verification check for immigrants, and that when he vetoed the bill, he was overridden.
“I think we need to work on this issue from both angles. One is enforcing the laws we have on the books towards those who commit further crimes, and second, for employers who illegally hire them.”
Supporters of McFadden and other recently-elected sheriffs in major urban centers like Durham, Wake and Guilford counties say they ran on this stance towards ICE, and the public understood what they were voting for.