Proposal would punish 'sanctuary cities' in NC

Posted May 10, 2016 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2016 5:37 p.m. EDT

Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson

— A bill sponsored by Sen. Buck Newton, the Republican attorney general candidate, would take road and school money away from communities that violate North Carolina's prohibition on being so-called "sanctuary cities" for people in the U.S. illegally.

Lawmakers last fall approved legislation barring any North Carolina county or municipality from restricting local law enforcement's ability to cooperate with federal immigration officials. Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro were among the locations in the state that previously instructed law enforcement and other officials not to ask the immigration status of people with whom they came into contact or to even ignore deportation orders.

"It’s just plain common sense that cities and counties ought to be enforcing federal and state immigration laws and not harboring illegal aliens at the potential expense of their own citizens’ safety," Newton, R-Wilson, and fellow sponsor Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, said in a statement. "Hopefully, this bill will provide some extra incentive for local officials to do the right thing."

They said Senate Bill 868 is in response to concerns that some localities aren't complying with the law.

Under the bill, the state would withhold public school building capital funding and Powell funding for city streets from any local government that violates the sanctuary city ban. The money would be forfeited for at least a year, until the city or county complied with the state law.

The proposal also calls for standardized penalties for businesses that don't use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers, allowing the attorney general to investigate complaints from citizens about possible sanctuary city violations and would prohibiting cities and organizations from issuing "community IDs" to people who lack immigration documents.

"This latest proposal does nothing to keep our communities safer, as residents who do not have access to a government ID will be deterred from contacting their local authorities during emergencies, fearing that such interaction with the police will lead to arrest and deportation," Latino advocacy group El Pueblo said in a statement.