The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday March 22nd

Chapel Hill rethinks impact of new law

The law now prohibits sanctuary cities, which are areas where local ordinances or resolutions encourage law enforcement not to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.

The law also prohibits any North Carolina county or municipality from restricting local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

Chapel Hill adopted a resolution in 2007 prohibiting Chapel Hill police from arresting a person if the sole basis is that they have or might not have committed a civil immigration violation.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said it’s uncertain if the law will change Chapel Hill’s policy. He said the town’s legal team, as well as the N.C. Justice Center, is working with the Town Council to address if there is a conflict.

“I’m very disappointed that the governor signed that bill,” Kleinschmidt said. “Here in Chapel Hill, we worked hard to try to create a balanced policy.”

The law also prohibits government agencies or law enforcement to accept consulate or embassy-issued IDs as a form of identification or to apply for residency. It requires state and local government agencies to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of contractors and job applicants and also puts limits on food assistance for able-bodied, childless adults who are unemployed.

Lt. Joshua Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said the police already had a policy about not asking questions about immigration status when it’s not related to an issue.

“This is also the case in basically everything else that we do, that we don’t ask questions that aren’t related to (our) investigation because they’re not related to our job,” Mecimore said.

Kleinschmidt said when the resolution was adopted in 2007, council members asked how they could create a community that protects everyone who lives in Chapel Hill.

“You do that by helping people feel comfortable with law enforcement — not having people feel threatened that they’re going to be deported just because they engage with a police officer,” he said.

On Thursday, local immigrant organizations, like the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, El Pueblo and the North Carolina NAACP, protested outside the governor’s mansion to show their disapproval of the law.

UNC graduate Emilio Vicente participated in the Raleigh protest.

“What happened last Thursday was a very diverse group of people coming together, not just immigrants or Latinos,” Vicente said.

UNC geography professor Altha Cravey also attended the protest. She said activists chained themselves together for more than an hour to demonstrate civil disobedience.

“It was a transformative experience to be there,” Cravey said in an email.



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