Opponents believe House bill targets undocumented immigrants, poor

A controversial measure addressing immigration and food stamps stirred some intense debate when it was taken up in the state House on Tuesday.

Posted Updated

Candace Sweat
Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — A controversial measure addressing immigration and food stamps stirred some intense debate when it was taken up in the state House on Tuesday.

House Bill 318 passed with a 70-43 vote and will now go to Gov. Pat McCrory for approval.

Talks of documentation of immigrants and food stamps sparked a lengthy debate in the House chamber before the vote took place.

The bill will limit the type of identification government officials, including police officers, can accept.

A change was made to the bill to allow officers to use any forbidden documents presented to them for law enforcement purposes.

Rep. Nathan Baskerville, D-Vance, said that rather than change the forms of identification that can be accepted by government officials, the state should address the reasons people are coming.

Another provision would prohibit cities and counties from adopting so-called sanctuary ordinances that limit their cooperation with federal officials in tracking undocumented immigrants.

The bill would also limit the amount of time a single-person household can remain on food stamps to three months.

Rep. Verla Inkso, D-Orange, said that this measure won’t save the state any money but would deprive North Carolina residents of federally funded benefits.

“This takes millions of dollars out of our community,” said Inkso. “This is going to create unemployment we don’t anticipate.”

Those against the bill say that it specifically targets undocumented immigrants as well as the poor.

“To really drill down and vilify one particular group of people is unjustified and it’s also…bigotry, and we in this House, in this fine institution, should never stoop to the level of marginalization and bigotry of any person,” said Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg.

Those who supported the bill had a different perspective.

“I have two daughters-in-law, one [is] from Nicaragua, one of them is from Italy. They were immigrants, and those two young ladies understand the blessings of America and they beat me over the head every time the issue of illegal immigration comes up in this country to tell me how stupid we are to allow this to be happening,” said Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow.

Following the passage of the bill, the North Carolina State AFL-CIO issued a statement in opposition of the bill. The organization claimed that the bill will force residents who are struggling to find a job into deeper poverty and that it will make it more difficult for police to protect the public by forcing them to prioritize enforcement of federal immigration law.

The AFL-CIO also believes that the bill will make it easier for employers to use the threat of deportation to keep workers from speaking up about unsafe working conditions or unpaid wages.

“North Carolina lawmakers have raised the bar for showing hostility to the interests of working people with H.B. 318, and that’s saying something for a legislature which has made a sport out of bullying the unemployed and the working poor,” said North Carolina AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer MaryBe McMillan. “We call on Governor McCrory to veto this bill as soon as it reaches his desk.”

On Tuesday, McCrory’s 2016 campaign sent out a fundraising letter asking for donations to help ban sanctuary cities.


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.