When the charges were announced against Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd’s accused killers, brothers Arturo Marin-Sotelo and Alder Alfonso Marin-Sotelo, a charge of “possession of a firearm by an illegal alien” was included, making the killing not just a local law-enforcement issue but a border-control issue for many Republicans.
On Aug. 31, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, and Rep. Ted Budd, NC-13, released a press statement and sent a letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security demanding immigration information about the Marin-Sotelo brothers. Specifically they requested the “Alien Files (A-Files)” and any other relevant information on the Marin-Sotelo brothers.
“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’s letter said. “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.”
Separately, Tillis and Budd also held a roundtable on Aug. 31 with Border Patrol Union President Brandon Judd and N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, among other law enforcement and legislative leaders. They discussed the need for better border-control enforcement and the need for local law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials.
Those in attendance called repeated to work together to stop sanctuary cities in North Carolina, a reference to cities that refuse to cooperate with federal officials on enforcing immigration laws.
Deputy Byrd’s killing at the hands of those who were likely in the country illegally could make a splash in two big Wake County races — the Wake County sheriff’s race, between Republican Donnie Harrison and Democrat Willie Rowe; and the 13th Congressional District race, which is the state’s only true toss-up race in 2022, between Republican Bo Hines and Democrat Wiley Nickel.
In the Wake County sheriff’s race, Harrison appears to be trying to thread the needle on cooperating with federal immigration officials. After losing to current Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker in a race that focused largely on 287(g), a federal program to create uniform processes on detaining and holding illegal immigrants by local authorities, Harrison now says he opposes that program.
““The 287-(g) program is obsolete,” Harrison said in a recent release. “The President has said he intends to stop the program, so Sheriffs will have to find new solutions to keep dangerous criminals in jail and off the streets.”
But Harrison does not want to stop cooperation with federal immigration officials, as many Democrat sheriff’s have. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed a bill this July that would have required sheriffs to cooperate with immigration officials. Harrison says instead he intends to screen all prisoners for warrants regardless of their status.
“Law enforcement alone cannot solve the issue of illegal immigration in the country,” Harrison said. “My goal is to make sure we have a comprehensive screening system that is fair to all people, and we use the latest technology to screen all detainees entering the detention center in an effort to check for any warrants and to verify their identification. This new system will be universal, and it will keep our county safer.”
The 13th Congressional District covers southern Wake County, as well as suburban and rural areas just to the south. With the Byrd killing being a major local story, the topic of illegal immigration will likely remain a top issue in that race as well.