Rep. Destin Hall on latest ICE bill, speakership

State Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) could become the first millenial to become speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. (A.P. Dillon / North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Arguably one of the most consequential bills this short session at the General Assembly is the measure requiring North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on detainers for illegal migrants.

House Bill 10 was approved by the Senate on May 2 and includes new language giving the state’s attorney general the power to take sheriffs to court for refusing to honor Immigration and Customs (ICE) detainers. The bill next heads to the House and is expected to pass quickly.

Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) said the change “came at the request of Dan Bishop,” referencing a social media post by Bishop.

Bishop is a former General Assembly lawmaker and North Carolina’s 8th District congressman who is running for attorney general.

On April 12, Bishop posted a message on X that tagged Hall. Bishop’s post was a response to a separate post by FOX News’ Bill Melugin detailing a case where an ICE detainer had not been honored on a Brazilian in the country illegally who was indicted on 10 counts of aggravated rape in a child.

Hall responded by calling out both Attorney General Josh Stein, who is running for governor, and Bishop’s opponent in the race to succeed Stein, U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson, for not supporting such action.

“Our current attorney general is not going to do anything about illegal immigration,” Hall told North State Journal in a wide-ranging interview on the bill, law and order, and the possibility he will be the next speaker of the N.C. House. “In fact, by all accounts, he appears to agree with Joe Biden’s open border policy. He is against this bill.

“I’m hopeful that when this bill passes and becomes law, the sheriffs will follow the law, and I think they will. But also, we didn’t think six years ago that we would need a bill that would require sheriffs to cooperate with ICE. They were already doing that voluntarily.”

Hall said most of the state’s 100 sheriffs support the bill, though there are a handful who have ”decided they just weren’t even going to cooperate with ICE at all.”

Previous attempts to pass an ICE detainer requirement bill were met with vetoes from North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Hall said he’s ”absolutely” ready to attempt a veto override should Cooper veto the latest effort.

House Bill 10 is not the first time Hall has worked to get an ICE cooperation bill passed. During the 2019-20 session, he ran House Bill 370, which passed both chambers but was vetoed by Cooper. At that time, Republicans did not have a supermajority in both chambers to override the veto and the bill died. In his veto message, Cooper accused the bill of being an attempt to score “partisan political points.”

In the 2021-22 session, Senate Bill 101 met a similar fate as House Bill 370. Cooper again labeled the bill as “scoring political points” and “using fear to divide North Carolinians.”

“The reality is we’ve seen case after case, not only in North Carolina, but in other states of folks being arrested, charged with a crime, and who are here illegally,” Hall said, saying some offenders were being released to potentially victimize citizens because ICE detainers hadn’t been honored.

Destin Hall
(David Cobb / NCGA)

“Those are real people facing real consequences,” Hall said of the victims. “It’s not a political game to the folks who have been harmed by the failure to cooperate with ICE.”In a recent Gallup Poll, illegal immigration was named the top concern of voters for the third consecutive week.

“I’ve been working on this issue since 2018 that we’re talking about today; for me it’s not about politics, it’s just about public safety,” said Hall. “But with that said, how can folks not have immigration on their minds when we literally don’t have a Southern border anymore?

“If you turn the TV on, folks are spilling across it in the millions … in Joe Biden’s presidency, literally almost no border enforcement whatsoever. And if we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. So that’s why it’s incredibly important that Donald Trump wins in November.”

Hall will have a bigger say if he succeeds Rep. Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) as the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Hall said he has “the fire in the belly to do any of this stuff.”

If elected to the speakership, the 36-year-old Hall would become the first millennial to lead one of the two chambers of the General Assembly. Hall already made history as being the first millennial to serve as chair of the powerful House Rules Committee.

Hall initially ran for a spot in the General Assembly not long after returning to his hometown to build a law practice.

“I wanted to make it as best place I could if I was going to live there,” said Hall.

“When you get here, you know you want to be as effective as you can for your district, and there’s various leadership roles,” said Hall. “My role as rules chair has let me be more effective for my folks back home. It’s letting me do a lot of things for Caldwell County and now (part of) Watauga County.”

Hall said being selected as speaker would be “that much more that I can do for my constituents back home, and really, for me, that’s the coolest thing about it.

“I see what Speaker Moore has been able to do for his district and some of the changes he’s made, and there’s also a lot of statewide things that he’s been able to impact during his decade as speaker,” said Hall. “And so I think that anybody who, I guess, gets to the point at which I’m at right now must want to do it.

“I don’t know if I want to do it as long as he’s done it, but, well, you just never say never. But yeah, I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s something that I’m confident that I’m ready to do.”

Hall said his priority should he rise to be the next speaker is strengthening law and order in the state, citing the ICE bill and recent volatile protests at UNC Chapel Hill.

“You see what happened (recently) at various college campuses across this country,” Hall said. “Right here, just down the road in Chapel Hill, the American flag was taken down and the Palestinian flag was raised, which I think really shocks the conscience of most North Carolinians to see that happen, and for good reason.

“And as an aside, I think the chancellor, Lee Roberts, did an incredible job (after) with what he did and just went out there, took the Palestinian flag down, put the American flag back up and, said, ‘Look, we’re not going to allow this sort of thing.’ And I think that a lot of what we deal with now day to day is just the sort of ever-evolving left-wing extremism spreading every way.”

Hall added, “We’ve got to combat that because, if we don’t, we’re not going to have a country anymore.

“Most people want to get up, go to work, they want to have lower taxes, they want to have good roads and they want to have a good education system. And, you know, we’re the No. 1 state for business. We’re going to continue to do those things. But I think that we need to continue to make sure we’re not letting any sort of extremism take root.”

Hall also said diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) “is obviously a big one” and may be taken up in the short session.

“But there’s a lot to do there, and DEI needs to be uprooted from all of state government, UNC System included,” said Hall while acknowledging part of the problem with DEI is “just being able to identify it and where it is because they use all these nebulous terms.”

Hall noted other states have eliminated DEI offices and said the North Carolina university system “needs to be based on merit.”

“The one example that comes to mind that we’re working on right now is the situation where folks are blocking roads,” said Hall. “We need to give law enforcement another tool to make sure that that doesn’t happen, and we’re working through that right now and we’ve seen that (happen) here in Durham a few months back where people were allowed to block the road.”

He added that incidents like that are “another reason why we need Dan Bishop as attorney general.”

“Because, unfortunately, in some places we don’t have law enforcement who are not willing, both the actual law enforcement officers and DA themselves sometimes, to enforce certain laws,” Hall said. “And frankly it seems to be based upon whatever the political belief is behind the protesters at the time.”