NC undocumented immigrants crackdown bill

Rep Harry Warren_Immigrant bill_wikimedia

Linda Cheng
   Staff Writer


NC House Bill 63, otherwise known as the Citizens Protection Act of 2017, is a piece of legislation which would crack down on undocumented immigrants charged with crimes.

It moved closer to becoming law on Tuesday, with the North Carolina House Judiciary Committee voting six to five last week to advance it. House Bill 63 would strengthen the state’s existing anti sanctuary law.

This bill would target undocumented immigrants charged with crimes, sanctuary cities, and greatly increase the penalty for being convicted of supplying or making false identification cards.

The bill itself was originally introduced by Republican Representatives Harry Warren (R-77), Jeff Collins (R-25), Jonathan Jordan (R-93), and Jay Adams (R-96).

Former Governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) signed the original anti-sanctuary law in 2015, also known as House Bill 318. It significantly weakened previously enacted sanctuary policies which limited or prohibited law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, and prohibited law enforcement from inquiring into the immigration status of individuals in custody.

Proponents of the previously enacted sanctuary policies argue that the legislation was meant to foster trust with law enforcement in immigrant communities, with many of them designed to protect criminal aliens from detection and removal from the United States.

However, North Carolina’s House Bill 318 fell short because it did not include penalties for cities that chose to unlawfully maintain such policies.

The first tenet of the bill increases the penalty for possession, sale or manufacture of false identification documents. It would raise the penalty of the offense to a Class G felony, with the possibility of up to 31 months in prison.

“It is ridiculous the lengths they will go to to stop hardworking and desperate people from making a living here,” Katrina Rodriguez said in an interview with The Carolinian. “If you really look behind the rhetoric that these politicians constantly spew, you start to realize that this makes it impossible for immigrants to make it here. My parents, when they first came, were unable to even get licenses for driving, which significantly hindered them from working and putting food on the table. And obviously, students in university are going to try to buy alcohol with fake IDs and whatnot, it’s just an inescapable fact. For the lawmakers not to address this as well, is just careless. So, honestly, this whole bill is a mess.”

Katrina Rodriguez is a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina and was born to Mexican immigrant parents.

House Bill 63 also denies undocumented immigrants the right to post bond for pretrial release when accused of a range of crimes under the perceived threat of releasing them, and it would also do the same for driving offenses. This results in the restriction of pretrial release and threat of deportation for immigrants for nonviolent offenses.

The bill would direct the North Carolina Department of Revenue to withhold funds from cities that violate the sanctuary cities law.

“This bill does not make North Carolinians safer,” immigration attorney Evelyn Small said in a CBS North Carolina interview. “This does not make the immigration community safer.”

“With so many responsibilities facing the state, why would we ask our local officers to increase their liability to take on the responsibilities of federal officers?”, Mercedes Restucha-Klem asked, in an interview with CBS North Carolina.

Mercedes Restucha-Klem is an attorney who works with El Pueblo, a Latino community group.

“We have an issue with undocumented individuals and we need to make some changes.” Rep. Jonathan Jordan (R-93) stated.

The bill has passed its first hearing, and will be held for public discussion on Tuesday, March 28 in the Judiciary II Committee at the State Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh.

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