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North Carolina Leads Push to Block Funding for Cities Ignoring Immigration Laws

shutterstock_114277594SGOP lawmakers in North Carolina are looking to control local governments with threats of blocked funding if they continue to skirt immigration laws passed in 2015. A Senate Judiciary Committee recently green-lit a bill allowing the withholding of state funds to cities and counties that continue to accept ID cards issued by nonprofit groups to undocumented immigrants, or support rules that act as “sanctuary city policies” and impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

If approved into law, Senate Bill 868 would effectively force law enforcement officials to ignore FaithAction IDs, which police in certain cities use to identify immigrants without documentation. According to the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, he hopes the threat of a penalty or loss will get people’s attention and rein them in.

North Carolina had earlier banned the nonprofit-issued ID cards, but allowed an exemption for law enforcement officials who needed them to identify the identity and residency of individuals with no legal documentation. However, another bill effectively removing that exemption was introduced this month, which drew objections from sheriffs in the state.

Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, who leads the push for stricter immigration rules, said it was necessary to clamp down on what he said was supposed to be a narrow exemption but has now turned into the norm, what with nonprofits frequently holding ID drives to encourage undocumented immigrants to get the ID cards.

Sanderson introduced an updated version of the bill that only removes the exemption, but also imposes stiff penalties on people and organizations that ignore North Carolina’s immigration laws. The bill outlines the creation of a form that people could use to report law enforcement agencies to the attorney general for failing to comply with immigration policies, including the existing ban on sanctuary city policies.

Sanderson’s immediate goal is to end the production of these unofficial ID cards and force cities to seek the advice of state officials before implementing or recognizing any local immigration policies. He said that while he understands that many people want to come to North Carolina, the state should still have some degree of control over them, which he adds is the whole point of the bill.

Senate Bill 868 states that entities found noncompliant of immigration laws will not receive funding the following year, with the funds shared among other recipients—a stipulation that supposedly creates a system of accountability.

The bill is currently on its way to a Senate Appropriations committee for approval.

To fully understand how FaithAction ID cards work and how North Carolina’s ban hurts immigrant rights, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm today. Call us to schedule a consultation at (512) 215.5225.