RALEIGH — Human and fentanyl trafficking, securing the border, and the impact of President Joe Biden’s border policies on North Carolina were the main topics of discussion at a roundtable held in Lexington on Aug. 31.
The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office hosted the roundtable attended by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (NC-13), N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain), various state lawmakers, and several county sheriffs including Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page and Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell.
Securing the border will help keep our communities safe.
Today’s roundtable with @SenThomTillis, @BPUnion President Brandon Judd, @NCHouseSpeaker, law enforcement leaders, & members of the General Assembly highlight the need to #StopSanctuaryCities & enforce the rule of law. pic.twitter.com/RZblGM1gbE
— Congressman Ted Budd (@RepTedBudd) August 31, 2022
According to Tillis and Budd, law enforcement officers have expressed they feel the problem isn’t just at the southern border, but that all states are now border states.
“I hear a powerful statement repeatedly, and that is that every single county in North Carolina has become a border county because of policies, the same policies that don’t have law enforcement’s back,” said Budd. “We want to give you the tools that you need to stop illegal immigration.”
Campbell concurred with Budd’s assessment, “Most of it, the crime we see, are the drugs we see transported throughout the county.”
He also said he is focused on ensuring violent criminals and drugs were kept out of Iredell County and his office does comply with ICE detainers.
Campbell described the seizure of 1.4 pounds of fentanyl in early August and remarked on the high level of fentanyl coming into the U.S. is “coming directly across our southern border; that is where it is coming from,” and the “drug trade drives more violence.”
Judd said both human and drug trafficking is “a huge issue” at the border and has become a serious issue for the rest of the country and that sanctuary cities are “magnets for criminals.”
“We’re battling fentanyl almost daily now in Rockingham County,” Page said. “But it seems like the better solution would be to stop these deadly drugs from ever getting to Rockingham County in the first place.”
Page continued, “It’s easier to cut a water hose off at the spigot – the source – than to catch each stream of water coming from the sprayer at the end of the hose. We have to work to secure our border and stop the Cartels from smuggling these drugs across that are ending up in our local communities.”
On the state level, Moore and lawmakers in attendance took aim at Gov. Roy Cooper over his veto of a bill requiring law enforcement agencies to honor ICE detainers for illegal immigrants arrested for crimes.
“By vetoing the bill,” Moore said. “The governor basically said we are a sanctuary state.”
During an accompanying press conference, Budd and Tillis stressed the importance of supporting local, state, and federal law enforcement to keep communities safe.
“I think time is of the essence,” said Tillis about the border crisis. “I think we have to stop future flows.
Tillis added he hope they could gain bipartisan support for action before the end of Congress’s current session. Budd also said they were looking at legislative options at the national level and Tillis indicated cutting funding for agencies not complying with ICE was not off the table.
Tillis acknowledged the criticism he has received over the DACA program but indicated he was serious about addressing asylum reform and securing the border.
Budd, who is running for U.S. Senate, also took a few shots at his opponent Cheri Beasley as being weak on crime and for her campaign’s push to paint her as a moderate. In recent weeks, Beasley has been trying to distance herself from the “defund the police” movement and, in particular, her ties to Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), a vocal supporter of the “defund the police” movement.
Illegal Immigration is becoming a key issue in the upcoming midterm election cycle, including competitive races such as North Carolina’s thirteenth district matchup between Republican Bo Hines and Democrat Wiley Nickel.
A majority of Americans are “buying in” to the idea that unchecked illegal immigration on the nation’s southern border is “an invasion,” according to a recent NPR/IPSOS poll. The poll revealed nearly “three-quarters (73%) of Americans believe the large number of migrants apprehended at the southern border is a problem, consistent with perceptions in September 2021 (72%).”
Additionally, recent reports by federal immigration officials show that for the first time ever arrests of illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are on pace to exceed 2 million.
The same day as the roundtable, Tillis and Budd issued a joint letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calling on him to investigate the immigration status of two brothers recently charged with the Aug. 11 murder of Wake County Sheriffs’ Deputy Ned Byrd.
“Based on public reporting, we have reason to believe that one or more of the Marin-Sotelo brothers may be in the country illegally,” Tillis and Budd wrote. “This raises significant questions about how they entered the country, why they were able to remain in the United States, and whether robust immigration enforcement would have apprehended them sooner and prevented the death of Deputy Byrd.”
Tillis and Budd’s letter also requests the “Alien Files (A-Files) and all relevant information” on the individuals charged in the Byrd case.
Other questions may need to be asked of Mayorkas based on a recent report by the Washington Free Beacon about a Department of Homeland Security memo the outlet obtained.
“Since the beginning of 2022, nearly 30,000 Mexican passport holders were flagged as part of the investigation into passport fraud, the memo states, adding that each identified individual will be further evaluated,” Washington Free Beacon reported.