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The Daily Tar Heel

New bill would revoke education, transportation funding to 'sanctuary cities'

For years, many North Carolina municipalities, including Asheville, Chapel Hill and Carrboro, have supported what has come to be known as "sanctuary city" policies, which instruct law enforcement not to question immigration status, and to take a more lenient stance on deportation. The rationale is typically that those law enforcement personnel would then be freer to focus on more pressing matters such as violent crimes.

In 2015, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 318 to respond to this growing practice among cities that felt unchecked immigration did not pose a substantive threat to public safety. The bill requires measures such as a prohibiting anyone from using a consular card, or ID issued by a foreign government, for identification in public businesses, as well as limiting the driving rights of undocumented immigrants. 

“This anti-immigrant rhetoric is bad for our state, it’s bad for our community… it doesn’t make us more secure,” said Anne Marie Dooley, a Greensboro Immigration Attorney, “It’s just a bad law.”

But despite calls from advocates like Dooley for the law to be overturned, some N.C. legislators doubled down on Tuesday, proposing a new bill, Senate Bill 868, which would seek to punish cities in violation of H.B. 318 by withholding funding for public school buildings and for city streets. 

"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," said Buck Newton, R-Wilson and sponsor of S.B. 868, and fellow sponsor Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, in a statement. "Hopefully, this bill will provide some extra incentive for local officials to do the right thing." 

The bill would also penalize businesses that don't use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers, and prohibit cities from issuing "community IDs" to people without immigration documentation.

Advocates of immigration reform argue that measures like this only serve to reinforce the portrayal of immigrants as dangerous to the community.

"It feeds into this idea that these people are somehow here to hurt our families and that the sheriffs are all here to protect us," said Addy Jeffrey, a community advocate in Greensboro.

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