Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina cities and counties would no longer be able to adopt "sanctuary" ordinances and policies that give limited safe harbor to undocumented immigrants if a bill reviewed by the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday becomes law.
House Bill 318 already carried a provision that would prohibit anyone from using a consular card for identification in any public business. Such cards are issued by foreign governments to identify their citizens living in the United States.
"Anyone who needs a matricula consular card is not in the country legally," said Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, the bill's lead author.
Language added to the measure Wednesday would prohibit cities and counties from adopting "sanctuary" rules for undocumented immigrants, either by local law or policy. Such rules limit when police and sheriffs' deputies can enforce federal immigration law. They also tend to curb the collection of information about a person's immigration status and limit when information about an undocumented person can be transmitted to the federal government.
Cities such as Asheville have adopted such rules because proponents there say it frees up police to concentrate on more troublesome, violent crimes. Advocates say it also helps law enforcement to establish better ties in immigrant communities.
"This one is a Donald Trump bill and does not help anyone," said John Herrera, who represents the Center for Community Self Help.
Trump has invoked during his presidential campaign hard-line immigration policies that call for the deportation of all in the U.S. illegally.
Herrera pointed to a separate House bill that would have established limited driving privileges for those in the country illegally as a more helpful approach, and he questioned whether law enforcement might not find that their hands were tied by the newly proposed language.
No representatives from the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association or the North Carolina Department of Public Safety were on hand to answer questions about the bill.
"I give you my word, we'll get comment from law enforcement," Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said.
The measure next heads to the Senate floor.