North Carolina lawmakers are currently considering House Bill 63, which would defund immigration sanctuary cities that do not comply with federal immigration laws.
The bill, introduced Feb. 8, would penalize cities or local governments that do not comply with immigration laws already in place.
Ron Woodard, director of conservative-leaning N.C. Listen, said his organization supports the bill.
“I don’t think we should go around selecting which laws we like and which laws we don’t like as a city,” he said.
Cities should not be helping undocumented immigrants because it is against the law, Woodard said.
North Carolina outlawed sanctuary cities and prohibited the use of county and consulate documentation as identification in 2015.
“It's unfortunate to even have to talk about this because cities should be helping with law enforcement and not trying to get in the way of it,” he said.
Angeline Echeverría, executive director of El Pueblo Inc., said there is no need for the bill.
“(We) don’t think that it will accomplish anything other than continuing to generate and create fear in the immigrant community and make immigrant community members feel further isolated from the community at large,” she said.
As there is no current definition for sanctuary cities or municipalities, Echeverría said the bill is further problematic.
"Our understanding is that it would be up to the attorney general to determine that," she said. "So a city that becomes classified in that way would then be subject to losing revenue, so it would hurt them it terms of having resources to serve the residents of their city."
Ira Mehlman, media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the bill would deter local jurisdictions from obstructing federal immigration enforcement if passed.
“If they recognize that there’s a good chance that they're going to lose state funding, then they will have to make a choice whether they would prefer to keep the cash or adopt policies that make it more difficult for the federal government to enforce immigration laws,” he said
Sanctuary cities could be dangerous and incentivize violations of federal immigration laws, Mehlman said.
"They endanger public safety," he said. "We have seen numerous incidents in which people who have been let loose because of local sanctuary policies and have committed other very serious crimes such as murder, so it is a clear danger to the community."
Rather than passing legislation like the bill at hand, Echeverría said legislators could focus on more proactive policies.
“We would really love it if our legislators focused on drafting policies that are designed to welcome and include community members rather than targeting them for criminalization,” she said.
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