Lawmakers in North Carolina are attempting to pass a bill that would allow local police to arrest people for not carrying state identification. But if a local activist has her way, the bill won’t make it out of the governor’s office alive.
The Protect North Carolina Workers Act (also known as House Bill 318) would not only allow police to ask people to produce state identification, but it would allow them to turn over people with documents issued outside the United States to immigration officials. It would also force companies with five or more employees to verify the immigration status of employees, bar sanctuary city ordinances and prevent the state from extending Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for some citizens in need.
When he introduced the bill in March, sponsor Rep. George Cleveland said the following: “We’ve allowed a huge illegal population in the state. We’ve taken away employment from our citizens. We’ve lowered the wage base because of the illegals working.” He went on to say, “Illegal aliens cost the state of North Carolina some $1.7 billion net, after all consideration of what they produce in taxes and whatnot toward government support. … It’s time to start reversing that trend.” The bill passed state house and senate votes late last month. Now it is awaiting a decision from Governor Patrick McCrory.
Activist Nancy Cardenas, who comes from a family of immigrants, created a petition to convince McCrory to veto the bill. She offered the following in a press release sent to Colorlines:
[HB 318] raises [a] safety issue for all residents of North Carolina, not just undocumented people. When some community members are hesitant to call the police for fear of being deported, it threatens the safety of the entire community. It means that women who are being abused by their partners might not call the police for help, or workers who are being mistreated by their employers will be afraid to speak out. In a state with one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country, HB 318 would leave thousands of people living in the shadows, in constant fear that they might be deported away from their families. We cannot stand by while this bill passes.
The North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina NAACP and Raleigh-based Latino advocacy group El Pueblo are also encouraging people to lobby the governor.