Tempers flare over immigration crackdown bill

Posted April 11

Immigrants and their supporters rally outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion on June 23, 2016, after the U.S. Supreme Court failed to overturn a lower court decision blocking President Barack Obama's deferred-action programs for people in the country illegally.

— A proposal to crack down on local governments over immigration led to raised tempers and voices Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee before being approved on a party-line vote.

Senate Bill 145 would withhold state funding from cities or counties that adopt a so-called "sanctuary" policy or ordinance regarding undocumented immigrants in any respect. It would open up an anonymous complaint process for any citizen with a "good faith" belief that a local government is not following immigration laws. The Attorney General’s Office would then be required to follow up and investigate within 45 days.

Any local government with a sanctuary policy could be sued by anyone who was injured by the actions of an undocumented immigrant.

The measure would also ban University of North Carolina campuses from implementing any policy limiting federal immigration law enforcement, stopping law enforcement officers from gathering information about a person’s immigration status or prohibiting that information from being passed on to federal agents. Violation of the law would lead to constraints on the school's spending authority.

It would also repeal a current law that allows law enforcement officers to recognize otherwise banned forms of identification, such as consular or community IDs, for the purposes of their work.

Supporters of the bill said it would be limited strictly to local governments, not private businesses or nonprofit organizations. But critics questioned whether that distinction could really be drawn.

Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, said his church provides food and other humanitarian assistance to the community.

"The folks that need help and that are coming for help, we know they're illegal," Lowe said. "We know they're here because they have nowhere else to go and they're just trying to get some basic help. You don't advertise it, but you just know."

Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D- Buncombe, asked whether someone could call the police and tell them to put up a checkpoint outside Lowe's church and then call to file a complaint if the police didn’t do that.

"I think this would lead to thousands of frivolous investigations and a significant drain on the state's resources, as well as towns losing funding that they desperately need," warned Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham.

Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, questioned whether banning police from recognizing community IDs might force them to release someone suspected of committing a crime. Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, asked whether an inadvertent error by a city employee might cost an entire city a year of funding.

The questions irritated Republican leaders on the committee.

"We're sitting here debating whether to obey the law or not. That just amazes me. In a judiciary committee of this state, does that make any sense that we would be debating that?" asked a clearly frustrated Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow.

"We're as welcoming as we can be. We're just saying just obey the law," Brown said. "It puts people on notice that we have laws. Just abide the law that's in place."

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, echoed Brown’s frustration, accusing Democrats on the committee of "nitpicking" the measure.

"What we're trying to do is say we're not going to welcome you if you're illegal," Tillman said. "If you don’t like it, vote no."

An angry Lowe actually walked away from the committee table but returned moments later to respond to Tillman.

"I resent anybody saying I'm nitpicking," Lowe said. "I am concerned because this is a real issue. Someone could call the police department and say the Shiloh Baptist Church is harboring illegals, and that's a real issue for a lot of churches."

The panel heard testimony from Rev. David Fraccaro, founder of Greensboro’s Faith In Action, a community ID program that’s been used as a template for such programs in other cities, most recently Cincinnati.

Fraccaro told the committee that local law enforcement completely supports his program as a way to build understanding and trust with the immigrant community. He said they had one case of a fraudulent ID out of 10,000 people, and they caught it.

"There is no legal pathway for the majority of undocumented people in our country," Fraccaro said. "Please, please, please get the facts on this."

The panel also heard testimony from Sarah Gillooly, policy director of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, that the section requiring UNC to allow information to be sent to immigration agents would very likely violate the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA, which forbids universities or schools from disclosing student information without the student’s consent or a warrant.

"We may force the university system into a situation where they have to choose between violating state laws and federal law," Gillooly explained.

The bill will likely be heard in the Senate Finance Committee next week.


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  • Red Baird Apr 28, 12:58 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    So what do you advocate? Perhaps it’s a strong military. Do you have the ability (assets) and would give up your financial holdings to secure a strong military? Democracy, it works both ways Chippy.

  • Janet Ghumri Apr 12, 9:38 a.m.
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    It bothers me that once a person is physically here, they have the ability to 'cherry pick' the laws of the land to remain here, as well as benefit from the rights available to legal citizens. By physically crossing the border it opens up a multitude of options that would never come into play if they were 6 inches on the other side. Privileges, benefits, rights, these are part of what makes the US a destination of choice for so much of the impoverished world. I'm not saying that we need to lock down immigration, but being here and using our own laws, policies and procedures against holding illegal persons accountable for circumventing our laws is just two-faced. Someone being 'illegal' here, that means that they have a place in this world where they are 'legal'. The energy expended in fighting to stay could be used to improve where they are from, or at least to follow the process for legally calling this 'home'.

  • Jim Dunn Apr 12, 9:37 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Do you have the ability (assets) and would give up you financial holdings to secure their place here. And if they go on social services, you lose your assets. That's what you have to do when you sponsor a foreign national for legal residency.

    Will you do that since you advocate letting illegals stay here?

  • Henry Cooper Apr 12, 8:56 a.m.
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    One thing that will never die in the south. The total lack of understanding by so many of the concept that Jesus and any church has anything to do with this decision and should play no part whatsoever.

    What would Buddha do? What would Allah do? Those questions are as relative as what Jesus would do in this case.

  • Kelly Birdsall Apr 12, 8:00 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I totally agree! Unfortunately, as is apparent here, most people only care what Jesus would do when it fits their own agenda.

  • Stephen Batchelor Apr 12, 7:08 a.m.
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    What's really amazing to me is that every one of the commentators on this forum that posted in regards to people being here illegally, and the law needs to be followed, and people need to be locked up, these are people seeking help. They have done nothing violent they we know of. They are here for help, seeking a better life. There is a big difference in being Christ-like than being religious.

  • Sara Hauser Apr 12, 6:38 a.m.
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    Jim -Jesus wants us to obey authority i.e.-follow laws?????

  • Eric Bohlen Apr 11, 8:57 p.m.
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    Pretty and clear and simple law. Has been that way for awhile. Don't complain simply because it wasn't enforced for a few years.

  • Steve Morgan Apr 11, 7:33 p.m.
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    How is North Carolina your home? Lol YOU ARE NOT IN THE USA LEGALLY!!!! There for no state in the entire USA is your Home period. So either become legal or go back to the country you came from

  • Brian Tucker Apr 11, 7:06 p.m.
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    The following is just like an employer hiring an illegal, giving to the illegals is wrong and when they say they have no place to go ... Mexico is where you go .... they have chosen not to become legal, and want all they can get illegally is wrong on so many levels. ...

    Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, said his church provides food and other humanitarian assistance to the community.

    "The folks that need help and that are coming for help, we know they're illegal," Lowe said. "We know they're here because they have nowhere else to go and they're just trying to get some basic help. You don't advertise it, but you just know