Republican Governors target Josh Stein’s immigration record in new ad

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is taking aim at North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein in a new ad, accusing the Democrat of harboring undocumented migrants in “sanctuary cities” within the state and lying when he says no such places exist.

Part of a seven-figure media blitz in the state, the ad, titled “Weak,” opens with a news anchor asking Stein — who is running against Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson to replace Gov. Roy Cooper — what the status is of sanctuary cities in North Carolina.

There are no sanctuary cities in North Carolina,” Stein replies before a voiceover declares that “Josh Stein is lying to you.”

Critics define sanctuary cities as urban enclaves where policies protect immigrants from local and state law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

In the new RGA ad, Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons says several North Carolina counties refuse to cooperate with “deportation officials.” The spot will air on cable, broadcast, and digital platforms.

“All of these criminal illegal aliens were released back on the street, including a sex offender,” Simmons says over a lineup of unnamed mugshots. The video then cuts to Stein, who says “I just don’t think it’s real” twice without context as to what “it” might be.

Simmons, who upset incumbent Sheriff David Grice in the Davidson County Republican Primary in 2018 and then ran unopposed for his badge, reappears to say “Trust me, the threat is very real.”

“‘Weak’ exposes Josh Stein for lying to North Carolina families as he claims there are ‘no sanctuary cities’ in North Carolina when the reality is that counties across North Carolina are taking dangerous stands and refusing to cooperate with immigration officials,” the RGA said in a statement.

The ad does not specify which cities or counties in North Carolina Republicans consider sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, nor does it mention Robinson.

Stein has been the state’s top cop since 2017. “Keeping North Carolinians Safe” is one of 13 priorities he lists for his governorship if elected in November.

During his tenure as Attorney General, Stein has “prosecuted and convicted violent criminals, including murderers, rapists, and child sex abusers,” he says on his campaign website.

He has said little directly about HB 10, which passed both the House and Senate in May and requires Sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

“We need to strengthen controls at the border,” Stein told the Raleigh News & Observer in May. “We have to do it from an immigration perspective. Folks who come to this country should come invited, they shouldn’t come of their own accord crossing the border.”

“Folks need to understand that if you commit a crime in this state, no matter your immigration status, you will be held accountable,” he said when asked his thoughts on HB 10.

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